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19th Century Clean Energy Tech to Power Islands

Invented 140 years ago, and known as ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), the system uses the natural temperature difference between shallow and deep waters to generate non-stop renewable power.

A rendering of Dominique, the floating barge leveraging OTEC
A rendering of Dominique, the floating barge leveraging OTEC | Global OTEC

However, this tantalizing technology has remained elusive due to massive infrastructure costs involved. It just needed someone to figure out how to put the idea to good use without breaking the bank.

So, it's good news that a UK startup’s floating barge design is finally able to unlock OTEC's potential for small islands reliant on dirty diesel grids. Unlike many other forms of renewable energy, OTEC is capable of running 24/7 and generating electricity at a consistent rate, and Global OTEC plans to deploy the first commercial-scale floating plant by 2025.

OTEC’s biggest obstacle blocking its large-scale adoption has been the huge costs involved in setting up plants, a major chunk of which is accounted for by the expensive long pipes fixed to the seabed to transport water from the plant. Global OTEC has seemingly found a solution to this problem.

Aimed to provide small island nations with a clean, baseload energy alternative to diesel, the company has designed its commercial-scale OTEC flagship plant, Dominique, to be modular and cost-effective with a floating barge design. It only requires a single 750-meter-long cold-water pipe, costing roughly $2.5 million.

Dominique has the potential to decarbonize 10 GW of installed diesel capacity across 32 island countries, and the company believes that developing partnerships with these countries will secure clean and sustainable energy, leveraging the vast, untapped technology that is OTEC.


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