Chairman’s Letter, June 2016: OTEC & Island Nations

U.S. Virgin Islands. The Philippines. The Bahamas. The mere mention of any of these brings to mind visions of an Edenic paradise – sandy beaches, blue ocean water, and unspoiled natural beauty. It is these features that draw millions of people per year to vacation on tropical and subtropical islands. Indeed, the livelihood of island residents often depends largely on revenue dollars brought in by tourism.

And yet, the poverty and suffering of the residents of these island paradises are well known. Islands are heavily dependent on imports. The expense of fuel importation is a particular burden for islands. At USD $0.52/kwh, the U.S. Virgin Islands has one of the highest energy prices in the world – more than triple the mainland U.S. average. Sources of fresh water often remain elusive as well. In the Philippines, even municipal water sources do not meet governmental standards and carry the risk of spreading waterborne diseases. Private water shops have cropped up throughout the country to help meet this need. All of this adds up to billions of dollars per year in extra cost levied on often-developing island economies.

Tourism is a revenue source that cuts both ways. Tourists expect clean water, consistent electricity, and locally sourced food. The influx of thousands of tourists per year per island adds additional strain to the already-strapped infrastructure of developing nations. On the one hand, an island’s residents shouldn’t be denied water and energy so that tourists can have it. On the other, the island cannot afford to jeopardize the flow of tourism dollars. What to do?

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) is the answer. Ideally suited to tropical and subtropical regions where three billion people live, OTEC uses the ocean’s temperature differentials to produce electricity without the use of fossil fuels. Equally important, OTEC can use a portion of its electricity to operate adjoining water desalination plants. Thus, OTEC can produce abundant volumes of fresh water for drinking, aquaculture, and agriculture from the pristine, mineral-rich, deep ocean water brought up during the OTEC process. OTEC’s unique package of energy, water, and food – the basic necessities for all humans – means OTEC can provide communities around the world with sustainable independence based upon their most abundant local resource: the ocean.

Hundreds of impact investors have supported us in our mission, and the number grows weekly. OTEC will bring relief to island residents and millions of other around the globe. We at OTE are hard at work to commercialize and deliver this world-changing technology and we won’t rest until we’re done. Learn how you can support us today.