OTI is excited at the prospect of developing projects in Hawai‘i, with the islands’ rich history of research and development of OTEC.
These excellent conditions, combined with the state’s political will to break its reliance on imported fossil fuels and drive down consumer costs, make Hawai‘i a good candidate for OTEC development.
Hawai‘i looms large in OTEC history: in 1979 and 1980, Mini-OTEC and OTEC-1 power plants were deployed to test the technology. Following those demonstrations, the U.S. Department of Energy deemed OTEC a viable energy source.
Since 2008, OTI has been working with Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) to develop a 100-megawatt OTEC plant offshore of O‘ahu’s leeward industrial area. The parties are now in advanced negotiations on a power purchase agreement (PPA) to provide clean, base-load energy to HECO’s grid. Once signed, the PPA must be reviewed and approved by the state’s Public Utilities Commission.
OTI has been meeting with stakeholders along the Leeward Coast of O’ahu. Once the PPA is signed, OTI will expand its outreach in the region to discuss the project and outline how OTI and its sponsor, The Abell Foundation, plan to be responsive, responsible partners committed to the protection and preservation of the Leeward Coast communities.
OTI plans to site its spar-designed platform about 5.5 miles offshore in ocean water approximately 3,000 feet deep. At this distance, the plant’s visual impact would be less than that of a cruise ship on the horizon. As there are no emissions associated with OTEC, the plant would have no impact on air quality.
To avoid damages to the ocean floor, OTI’s power cable will be carefully laid, going under the reef and beach through a directionally-drilled mini-tunnel to avoid environmental and visual impacts.
The highly stable spar platform would be attached to the seabed with simple mooring anchors, minimizing impact. Its anchor depth and installation are engineered to survive earthquakes and geological stresses. The offshore plants would not be affected by tsunami waves, which form closer to shore. During severe weather conditions, OTI’s offshore location would serve to strengthen the island’s energy security.