In November 2009, NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) as the lead licensing agency for OTEC, in cooperation with the Coastal Response Research Center hosted a OTEC technology workshop to assess the technical readiness of OTEC. The workshop evaluated the advancements of the technology since the last attempt OTEC-1 in 1980a and the time frame for commercial scale development. The workshop was attended by renowned OTEC and offshore experts, academics, private sector interests, nongovernmental organizations, and other federal agencies.
The qualitative analysis of the technical readiness of OTEC according to experts at this workshop suggest that a <10 MW floating, closed-cycle OTEC facility is technically feasible using current design, manufacturing, deployment techniques and materials. The technical readiness and scalability to a > 100 MWe facility is less clear. Workshop participants concluded that existing platform, platform mooring, pumps and turbines, and heat exchanger technologies are generally scalable using modular designs (several smaller units to achieve the total capacity needed). The power cable, cold water pipe and the platform/pipe interface present fabrication and deployment challenges for > 100 MWe facilities and further research, modeling and testing is required. The platform/pipe interface and the cold water pipe (approx. 10 m diameter) will be the biggest hurdle to successful for > 100 MWe OTEC facilities.
During the workshop the importance of pilot plants was stressed. The experience gained during the construction, deployment and operation of a <10 MWe facility will greatly aid the understanding of the challenges associated with a > 100 MWe facility and is a necessary step in the commercialization and development of OTEC.
For more information about the workshop and the final report, please visit the following weblink: http://www.crrc.unh.edu/workshops/otec_technology_09/index.html