Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation?
Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation builds and operates clean hydrothermal energy plants worldwide using the proven technologies Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) and Seawater Air Conditioning (SWAC). OTE traces its roots back to 1988 and has a multidisciplinary team of experienced corporate executives, scientists and ocean engineers, together with strong strategic alliances with premier corporations and financing institutions. Headquartered in Lancaster, PA, OTE has multiple offices in Pennsylvania, Virginia, The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, United States Virgin Islands, and Hawaii.
What is Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)?
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, known as “OTEC”, is a scientifically proven system of generating clean, baseload (24/7), renewable energy, without the use of fossil fuels. OTEC is ideally suited for tropical and subtropical regions of the world, where three billion people live.
80% of the sun’s solar energy is stored in the surface waters of the world’s oceans and replenished daily.OTEC taps into this vast renewable energy source by using the temperature differential between the warm surface water and cold deep ocean water to make clean electricity. Equally important, OTEC can use a portion of its electricity to operate adjoining water desalination plants, thus producing abundant volumes of fresh drinking water as well.
How does OTEC work?
In a closed cycle OTEC system, ocean water flows through two large pipes: a warm water pipe containing the surface water, which is heated by the sun everyday; and a cold water pipe containing the chilly water from the deep ocean. The heat from the surface water is used to boil a working fluid with a low boiling point (such as ammonia), creating steam, which turns a turbine generator to produce electricity. The chill from the cold deep water is then used to condense the steam back into liquid form, allowing the system to repeat this process continuously, forever fueled by the sun’s reliable daily heating of the surface water.
What is Seawater Air Conditioning (SWAC)?
Seawater Air Conditioning systems use cold, deep ocean water as the non-polluting refrigerant for large scale air conditioning needs, including resorts, hotels, and data centers.
In non-scientific terms, an SWAC plant might be thought of as “half an OTEC plant”...meaning that, while an OTEC plant has two pipes (one warm water pipe and one cold water pipe), an SWAC plant has only one pipe...the cold water pipe, which brings up the chilly deep ocean water. This cold deep water is used as the clean refrigerant for air-conditioning, reducing usage by 80%-90% when compared to conventional AC...saving the typical customer millions of dollars in electricity bills over the contract’s life.
How is OTEC different than other renewable energies?
In two ways. First, while current renewable technologies such as solar and wind have an important role to play in the future of global energy supply, they are intermittent, unlike OTEC, which is 24/7, providing a constant 24/7 supply of energy. Wind and solar obviously work only when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. OTEC, on the other hand, works 24/7 and will continue to do so for as long as the sun heats the surface waters of the world’s tropical and subtropical oceans every day. With the global population growing exponentially and industrializing, more 24/7 energy is essential to meet those needs. Second, and equally important, OTEC is much bigger than just 24/7 renewable energy. It can also be used to produce great volumes of fresh drinking water and sustainable fish-farming. Thus, 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.
Why are OTEC and SWAC now economically compelling?
There are two reasons. First, oil prices have greatly risen in the last 20 years, although marked by tremendous fluctuations. In fact, the recent tumbling of oil prices once again proves the wild volatility and unpredictability of oil costs. This volatility is thoughtfully addressed in the January 2015 Forbes Magazines article entitled Why Falling Oil Prices Don’t Hurt Demand For Renewable Energy. The growing concern over oil price volatility, inflamed by turmoil in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, is precisely the reason that so many of OTE’s customers for OTEC and SWAC continue in 2015 to eagerly seek our system as a means to energy cost stability.
Second, technological advances in deep water piping from the offshore oil industry have made large-scale, robust pipes commercially available for OTEC plants. With these two developments, OTEC is becoming profitable while SWAC is already commercialized and successfully operating in several locations around the world. Both of these well proven technologies can also help produce plentiful amounts of fresh drinking water, dramatically reduce carbon emissions, and potentially save customers millions of dollars in energy costs in appropriate markets.
Where are OTE’s customers?
OTE has generated a robust pipeline of global customers and projects for OTEC and SWAC plants in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, each with projected gross revenues of $400 million - $900 million. With increasing renewable energy mandates globally, OTE’s book of potential customers continues to grow rapidly.