Leeward waters best for OTEC energy production

October 19th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Research News

thermal imagery of the Hawaiian Islands and surrounding ocean

Ocean thermal energy conversion, or OTEC, generates energy by harnessing the flow of heat from a reservoir of warm surface ocean water to a reservoir of cold water pumped from the deep ocean. The technology is most efficient where the temperature difference is the greatest.

In Hawaiʻi, that means the leeward, or western, side of the islands, Associate Professor of Ocean and Resources Engineering Gérard Nihous reports online in the July 15 Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy.

Based on computer simulations constrained by available data, the warm-cold temperature difference is 1 degree Celsius greater in the leeward waters. That translates to about 15 percent more power, an important consideration when gauging the economic feasibility of OTEC as a baseload energy source.

View the OTEC project site.

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