Heat from the oceans can be used to provide holiday parks, coastal towns and ultimately countries with offshore ships that harvest thermal energy.
Global OTEC Resources, a marine energy startup from Cornwall, has received an EU grant of £ 140,000 to build a prototype of their invention.
It draws frozen water from the ocean to the much warmer surface and the temperature difference generates electricity.
The first prototype will be able to generate one megawatt of power and, in contrast to wind and solar energy, can run 24 hours a day, according to the company.
This can help reduce the demand for fossil fuels from off-grid islands in warmer climates and even power very small nation states, said CEO Dan Grech.
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Global OTEC Resources, a marine energy startup from Cornwall, has received an EU grant of £ 140,000 to build a prototype of their invention
Founders Dan Grech and Hayden Ashfield are in talks with the Maldives government and resorts on the island about delivering power after the process.
Currently, 96 percent of the energy produced in the Maldives comes from fossil fuels and only 4 percent from renewable sources such as wind and solar energy.
The British company says the ships could initially be deployed in seven Maldive island resorts to replace diesel generators.
“We are convinced of the viability of OTEC in the Maldives,” said Ibrahim Nashid, president of Renewable Energy Maldives.
“OTEC is the ideal energy solution that can supply basic charge energy and fresh water throughout the year in the Maldives.”
Founders Dan Grech and Hayden Ashfield are in talks with the Maldives government and resorts on the island about delivering power after the process
The heat extraction technology behind the ship was first developed in the 1880s by French scientists Jacques D’Arsonval, but was perfected in the 70s and 80s.
It is called Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) and the great innovation of Global Resources is to place it on a floating ship.
The ship draws freezing water from a depth of 3200 ft using a cold water pipe and combines it with the hot surface water to drive a turbine that produces electricity.
“These islands no longer have to depend on expensive diesel imports to deliver their energy,” said Mr. Grech.
“We are around the corner from a huge empowerment of renewable energy revolution and we are delighted that the Maldives wants to pioneer this with us”.
It is called Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) and the great innovation of Global Resources is to place it on a floating ship
They start their process in the Maldives because it is the ‘perfect location’ because of sitting on an old underwater volcano, good weather all year round and a large tourist economy.
“These three points mean that we can reduce our costs much faster than anywhere else in the world,” said Mr. Grech.
“Our first floating prototype for the Maldives takes 18 months to complete the design and construction.
‘We are currently in the capital Male’ in negotiations with various parties about the final locations. It has kindled a bidding war, because many islands like to be driven by the ocean first! “
Global sources say it has much greater environmental benefits than fossil fuels or nuclear energy and is fully renewable.
The ship draws freezing water from a depth of 3200 ft using a cold water pipe and combines it with the hot surface water to power a turbine that produces electricity
They say it also avoids land use problems associated with other sustainable technologies such as solar, wind, biomass and hydropower.
HOW DOES THE OCEAN THERMAL ENERGY CONVERSION WORK?
OTEC works by taking heat absorbed by the oceans from the sun and then converting it into electricity.
Below about 3,000 ft of ocean water is ice cold – about 39.2 F and OTEC uses the difference between this and much warmer surface water.
- Hot water is used to make a liquid with a boiling point of -22F
- The vapor of the liquid drives a turbine that is attached to an electric generator
- Turbine exhaust vapor is condensed and cooled by water pumped from the cold water source below
- The condensed vapor is then returned to the boiler to complete a cycle that generates electricity 24 hours a day throughout the year
SOURCE: Worldwide OTEC sources
Unlike wind and solar energy, Global resources say that OTEC technology can generate electricity 24 hours a day throughout the year.
The company says that a part of the tropical ocean around 38 million square miles absorbs a quadrillion mega joule of energy from the sun every day.
This is about the same as the energy from burning 170 billion barrels of oil per day.
According to Mr Grech, even a small part of this thermal energy can supply small countries and coastal communities with warmer climates.
He says the longer term goal is to be able to deliver wider power as they are able to mass-produce the ships.
The company has attracted private investments from the UK and internationally to further develop its technology.
They have also completed a number of feasibility studies, including a peer-reviewed partnership with the University of Exeter.
“The temperature difference around the Maldives is a good omen for OTEC applications that have great potential to meet the energy demand of the archipelago,” said professor Lars Johanning of the University of Exeter, who reviewed the work.
HOW MANY WILL SEA LEVELS IN THE FOLLOWING CENTURIES?
Global sea level could rise to 2300 as much as 1.2 meters (4 feet), even if we reach the 2015 Paris climate targets, scientists have warned.
The long-term change will be driven by a thaw of ice from Greenland to Antarctica, which will have to pull the coastlines again.
Sea level rise threatens cities from Shanghai to London, to low-lying parts of Florida or Bangladesh, and to entire nations such as the Maldives.
It is vital that we reduce emissions as quickly as possible to prevent even greater increases, a team of researchers led by Germany said in a new report.
By 2300, the report predicted that sea levels would rise by 0.7 – 1.2 meters, even if nearly 200 countries fully met the targets of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The objectives of the agreements include the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to zero in the second half of this century.
The ocean level will rise inexorably, because existing industrial gases that retain heat in the atmosphere will linger, causing more ice to melt.
In addition, water naturally expands as it heats above four degrees Celsius (39.2 ° F).
Every five years after 2020 in the peak of global emissions would mean an additional 20 centimeters (8 inch) rise in sea level by 2300.
“Sea level is often communicated as a very slow process that you can’t do much about … but the next 30 years really matter,” says lead author Dr. Matthias Mengel from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Potsdam, Germany, told Reuters.
None of the nearly 200 governments signing the Paris agreements is on track to deliver on its promises.