Frequently Asked Questions
- What sets OTEC International apart from other companies in this industry?
- How does OTEC compare to other base load power sources?
- How does OTEC work?
- Is OTEC proven?
- Why hasn’t the technology been commercialized?
- How does OTEC compare to other renewable technologies?
- Why OTEC International LLC?
What sets OTEC International apart from other companies in this industry?
Because OTI is 100 percent funded by private investment, the team is fully focused on ensuring that project designs are both technologically sound and economically attractive to target markets. Because we have been able to obtain private funding for development of our advanced technology, OTI has chosen not to compete with other companies for federal funding.
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How does OTEC compare to other base load power sources?
Due to its high (nearly 94 percent) capacity factor, OTEC’s consistent power source is best compared to other baseload (firm) power generators such as oil, coal, nuclear, integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC), and gas/oil combined cycle. Although OTEC has a higher initial capital cost, its “free” fuel and very low operating expenses make it attractive over the plant’s life. OTEC International can charge a predictable fixed rate to its utility customers, greatly reducing the volatility risk of fossil fuel-based systems.
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How does OTEC work?
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) is a renewable energy technology that uses the temperature difference between warm surface ocean water and cold, deep-sea water to power a Rankine cycle to generate electricity. OTI uses a closed-cycle where a working fluid with a low boiling point is vaporized in a heat exchanger heated by the warm surface water. The vapor expands to power turbines that turn generators to produce electricity. The working gas is cooled back to liquid state using the deep-ocean cold water and the process begins again.
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Is OTEC proven?
The first OTEC power plants were built and tested in the early 1920s and 1930s in Cuba and Brazil. Since then, several test platforms have been built, including in Hawai‘i, with Mini-OTEC in 1979 and OTEC-1 in 1981, to demonstrate the OTEC concept. Work is underway in the US, Japan, China, India and Korea to test or develop commercial plants. The proposed Cayman plant will be one of the first, if not the first, commercial floating OTEC power plant.
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Why hasn’t the technology been commercialized?
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, OTEC was ready for development almost 30 years ago. The oil crisis of the 1970s spurred OTEC R&D, but when the price of oil sharply declined, so did OTEC’s political and financial support. OTEC energy could not compete with cheap fossil fuels. Now, as oil prices rise due to growing demand, and the manufacturing technologies to produce affordable OTEC system components have been commercialized, OTEC has again surfaced as a promising source of renewable energy.
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How does OTEC compare to other renewable technologies?
OTEC is fueled by an infinite supply of solar energy stored in the ocean’s top layer. Even after the sun goes down, OTEC can tap the stored solar energy and generate power 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Energy supplies from renewable sources such as solar and wind, are not consistent and predictable. Geothermal energy is very site specific, and biomass renewable energy consumes precious agricultural resources. For areas of the globe suitable for OTEC, it is an important part of a renewable energy portfolio. Commercial production is now possible thanks to the technology acceleration and innovations in recent years by OTEC International.
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Why OTEC International LLC?
OTEC International’s proprietary OTEC design is the culmination of more than 40 years of research and development focused on system efficiency and reliability as evidenced by a portfolio of five patents and 18 filed in the US, and two international patents with more than three-dozen filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization. To our knowledge, OTI’s moored spar design is the only one to have been evaluated by an independent engineering firm and deemed ready to move forward to commercial development. OTI is the first and only company to have received the preliminary “Approval in Principle” by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) for its moored spar design. OTI has submitted its barge platform power plant design to ABS and is awaiting approval for “Front-end Engineering & Design.”
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