Written By: Mike Straub
We have a winner. In the race to build an Ocean Thermal Energy Power plant, The Bahamas have jumped to the front of the pack. This week, the Bahamas Electricity Corporation signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation to build two OTEC plants.
For the Bahamas, the decision was an easy one. The nation pays huge costs to bring fossil fuel to the islands to run power plants. The BEC set a goal of expanding renewable resources, and freeing their nation from the tyranny of oil. OTEC creates clean power from abundant ocean water, The Bahamas’ ultimate natural resource – creating power and changing lives with OTEC is the epitome of Bahamian energy independence.
But clean, renewable energy is just the beginning. OTEC plants provide clean, potable drinking water in massive quantities – enough to greatly change the lives of thousands. It can be used for fish-farming and agricultural development by providing ‘chilled-soil agriculture’, giving The Bahamas the ability to grow crops that traditionally wouldn’t flourish in their region. In short, OTEC provides sustainable food production, something no other form of power can even begin to offer. Additionally, the power, water, and byproducts put people to work. OTEC will become a large scale job creator in The Bahamas.
This will not be an experiment in The Bahamas – OTEC is proven to work. In the 90′s, the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority built an OTEC plant, proving base-load, emission-free power can be created from the temperature difference in ocean water. Currently, there are nearly 100 tropical regions where OTEC can dramatically boost the lives of surrounding regions.
Dr. Ted Johnson spent the last 30 years researching, developing, and promoting OTEC power. Today, he is a Vice President for OTE Corporation. In an interview earlier this summer he said, “When we flip the switch on an OTEC plant, the world is really going to change.” Well, The Bahamas will have the honor of flipping that switch. While we marvel at OTEC, many others will race to catch up with the OTEC winners, The Bahamas.