Geosciences, Vol. 11, Pages 407: The Suitability of the Pacific Islands for Harnessing Ocean Thermal Energy and the Feasibility of OTEC Plants for Onshore or Offshore Processing
Geosciences doi: 10.3390/geosciences11100407
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) relies on the thermal differences between ocean surface waters and cooler waters at c. 1000 m depth. The highest and most reliable thermal differentials are in the low latitudes, 20° either side of the equator, including the Pacific Islands region. Whilst in theory OTEC can utilize an inexhaustible amount of stored energy within the oceans, in practice the industry remains in its technical infancy, but with an increasing relevance to a post-fossil-fuel, environmentally conscious world. OTEC does not only produce electricity. OTEC-seawater utilization technologies produce high demand ocean minerals, desalination, a range of waters for aquaculture and hydroponics, and have the potential to produce large quantities of green hydrogen. OTEC is a green energy and could revolutionize the energy and economic landscape of Pacific island countries, providing reliable low-C electricity and a basis for a range of industry. This paper analyses the economics of using OTEC in combination with existing and potential future industries of importance to the Pacific (and other oceanic) regions, including tuna fisheries, seabed minerals and green hydrogen. The conclusions of these analyses suggest that OTEC has the potential to minimize carbon emissions, increase efficiencies, and create new high-quality green-technology industries and livelihoods.
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