Energy harvesting from our surroundings has now taken on another leap forward from what is a limitless supply from our oceans. For all you sun worshippers out there living near the coast; in the not too distant future you may have your household electricity being supplied by clever power stations that extract the energy stored from your local sun bathed surf.
Hawaii’s new OTEC power plant harvests energy stored in warm ocean water;
The OTEC plant cost $5 million to build and is the world’s largest power plant using this renewable and clean energy source. The project was funded and developed through a jont venture between Hawaii’s Makai Ocean Engineering, the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research, and the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) at the University of Hawaii.
It’s new technology enables thermal energy using the temperature differential between warm surface water and deep sea cold water to turn a turbine that is used to generate electricity. As it relies on surface heating from sunlight, the supply of ocean thermal energy is practically limitless, especially in sub tropical areas where the ocean’s sea water warms up rapidly. Similar to a fossil fuel plant, the OTEC system provides this energy in a steady supply that can be notched up or scaled back quickly in response to grid demand.
Whilst the inital investment to get this innovation off the ground seems small in comparison to traditional grid stations Makai still face financial hurdles. They plan to develop a site in Japan and then hopefully the collective interest will enable further expansion on what is poised to be the next must have technology for clean renewable energy.
A fantastic business which could significantly reduce our fossil fuel emissions around the globe. And one topic I’d like to discuss in our forum.
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