The world deals with an energy crisis. Many vulnerable regions suffer from the high and volatile oil price in combination with a heavy reliance on foreign fuel. Besides economic and energy security concerns, greenhouse gas emissions created by burning fossil fuels are creating a climate crisis as well. Never has the need been greater to transition to a clean, renewable energy use and this time, it will not go away.
Today, much of the technology required for OTEC can be borrowed from other areas of engineering, such as the offshore oil and gas industry. The availability of new materials, broad offshore experience and advanced technology for pipes, heat exchangers and other equipment together have improved the technical feasibility and cost competitiveness of OTEC. The current capabilities in deploying large offshore constructions enable an accelerated development and implementation of OTEC.
The interest in OTEC is growing, especially in island regions that seek to offset their high-cost fossil fuel based energy with locally-generated renewable energy. Because of this, these niche markets are likely to be the first locations for demonstration and future commercial development of OTEC.
There are several groups working on developing OTEC. Europe, India, Japan and the US all have OTEC programs and various parties world-wide have signed power purchase agreements to connect a pre-commercial OTEC pilot plant to the grid in the coming years.
The experience gained from these demonstration and pilot projects is needed to understand the challenges and risks associated with a larger commercial facility and streamline the path to OTEC commercialization.
This is the time that OTEC will come to fruition.