The Cayman Islands feature choice conditions for OTEC development—tropical location, appropriate ocean temperatures, and an open and willing utility (Caribbean Utilities Company) and government eager to move away from relying on expensive, imported fossil fuels.
OTEC International seeks to eventually provide up to 25-megawatts (MW) of wholesale renewable electricity to CUC from Floating Power Platforms (FPP) moored on the north side of Grand Cayman Island. CUC generates an average of 70-MW of power each year, with peak demand of 100-MW, entirely from diesel generation.
The Cayman Islands has documented its storm history with precision, which made it easier for OTEC International to identify locations where FPPs can be securely sited and appropriately designed to survive strong storm conditions.
The first phase of the Cayman project would be the generation of 6.25-MW renewable electricity from an FPP that would be permanently moored less than a mile from shore. At this distance from shore, the plant’s visual impact will be minimal because of the platform’s overall low profile. The power generated would be transmitted to a substation onshore via cable and connected to the CUC grid.
OTEC International and its sponsor, The Abell Foundation, are deeply committed to being a positive partner and responsible steward. OTI is following a comprehensive environmental permitting process under the Cayman Island’s newly adopted National Conservation Law. OTI continues to provide opportunities for public input. A team of independent environmental consultants with OTEC expertise has incorporated local information gathered at public forums to begin a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). OTI respects that the EIA is meant to assure that the Floating Power Platforms run safely with minimal environmental impact while giving Grand Cayman a more diverse energy portfolio.
In its mission statement, the Electricity Regulatory Authority says it is “committed to the development of electricity from renewable resources to reduce the dependence of the Cayman Islands on diesel fuel.” OTEC International has begun working with the Cayman Islands community to reduce its dependency on foreign oil; provide reasonable, predictable electricity costs; and become a global leader in renewable energy development.
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is being conducted as part of the permitting process with the Environmental Assessment Board (EAB). The result of this assessment will be a Draft Environmental Statement (ES) which will be open for public comment. The Draft ES is estimated to be released sometime during the second half of 2015. The Environmental Statement is one of several reports and applications subject to approval by various government and statutory authorities before construction and operation of the floating power platform can begin. Commercial operation of the first 6.25-MW floating power platform could begin as early as 2017.