Heat from the oceans could be used to power holiday resorts and countries

Heat from the oceans could power holiday resorts, coastal towns and eventually entire COUNTRIES using offshore barges that generate electricity from thermal energy

Heat from the oceans could be used to power holiday resorts, coastal towns and eventually countries using offshore barges that harvest thermal energy. 

Global OTEC Resources, a marine energy startup from Cornwall has been given a £140,000 EU grant to build a prototype of their invention.

It pulls deep freezing water from the ocean to the much warmer surface and the difference in temperature drives a turbine that generates electricity. 

The initial prototype will be able to generate one megawatt of power and unlike wind and solar power can run 24 hours a day, according to the company.

This could help reduce the demand for fossil fuels from ‘off grid’ islands in warmer climates and even power whole small nation states, said CEO Dan Grech. 

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Global OTEC Resources, a marine energy startup from Cornwall, has been given a £140,000 EU grant to build a prototype of their invention

Global OTEC Resources, a marine energy startup from Cornwall, has been given a £140,000 EU grant to build a prototype of their invention

Founders Dan Grech and Hayden Ashfield are in talks with the Maldives government and resorts on the island about supplying power after the trial. 

Currently 96 per cent of the energy produces in the Maldives comes from fossil fuels with just 4 per cent from renewable sources such as wind and solar power.  

The UK firm say the barges could initially be deployed to seven Maldivian island resorts to replace diesel generators. 

‘We are convinced of the viability of OTEC in the Maldives’, said Ibrahim Nashid, Chairman of Renewable Energy Maldives. 

‘OTEC is the ideal energy solution that can provide base load energy and fresh water through the year in the Maldives.’

Founders Dan Grech and Hayden Ashfield are in talks with the Maldives government and resorts on the island about supplying power after the trial

Founders Dan Grech and Hayden Ashfield are in talks with the Maldives government and resorts on the island about supplying power after the trial

The heat extraction technology behind the barge was first developed in the 1880s by French scientists Jacques D’Arsonval but was perfected through the 1970s and 80s.

It is called Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) and the big innovation by Global Resources is to put it on a floating barge. 

The barge pulls freezing water from a depth of 3,200ft using a cold water pipe and combine it with the hot surface water to drive a turbine that produces electricity. 

‘These islands no longer have to depend on costly diesel imports to provide their energy’, said Mr Grech.

‘We are round the corner from a massively empowering renewable energy revolution and we are excited that the Maldives wants to pioneer this with us’. 

It is called Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) and the big innovation by Global Resources is to put it on a floating barge

It is called Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) and the big innovation by Global Resources is to put it on a floating barge

They are starting their trial in the Maldives as it is the ‘perfect location’ due to sitting on an ancient underwater volcano, benign weather year round and a large tourist economy.

‘These three points mean that we can lower our costs much quicker than starting anywhere else in the world’, said Mr Grech.

‘Our first floating prototype for the Maldives will take 18 months to complete the design and build. 

‘We are currently in the capital Male’ in negotiations with various parties about the final locations It has sparked a bit of a bidding war because lots of islands are keen to be the first to be powered by the ocean!’

Global Resources say it has much greater environmental advantages than fossil fuels or nuclear power and is completely renewable.

The barge pulls freezing water from a depth of 3,200ft using a cold water pipe and combines it with the hot surface water to drive a turbine that produces electricity

The barge pulls freezing water from a depth of 3,200ft using a cold water pipe and combines it with the hot surface water to drive a turbine that produces electricity

They say it also avoids the land-use problems linked to other renewable technologies such as solar, wind, biomass and hydroelectric power. 

HOW DOES OCEAN THERMAL ENERGY CONVERSION WORK? 

OTEC works by taking heat absorbed by the oceans from the Sun then turning it into electricity.

Below about 3,000ft ocean water is ice-cold – about 39.2F and OTEC uses the difference between this and much warmer surface water.

SOURCE: Global OTEC Resources

Unlike wind and solar power, Global Resources say OTEC technology can generate electricity 24 hours a day throughout the year. 

The company say that an area of tropical ocean around 38 million square miles absorbs a quadrillion mega joules of energy from the Sun every day. 

This is about the same as the energy from burning 170 billion barrels of oil per day. 

Tapping even a small proportion of this thermal energy could power small countries and coastal communities in warmer climates, according to Mr Grech. 

He says the longer term goal is to be able to provide power more widely as they become able to mass produce the barges. 

The company has attracted private investment from the UK and internationally to further develop its technology.

They have also completed a number of feasibility studies including a peer-reviewed partnership with the University of Exeter.

‘The temperature differential around the Maldives bodes well for OTEC applications which have a great potential to satisfy the energy demand of the archipelago’, said Professor Lars Johanning from the University of Exeter, who reviewed the work. 

HOW MUCH WILL SEA LEVELS RISE IN THE NEXT FEW CENTURIES?

Global sea levels could rise as much as 1.2 metres (4 feet) by 2300 even if we meet the 2015 Paris climate goals, scientists have warned.

The long-term change will be driven by a thaw of ice from Greenland to Antarctica that is set to re-draw global coastlines.

Sea level rise threatens cities from Shanghai to London, to low-lying swathes of Florida or Bangladesh, and to entire nations such as the Maldives.

It is vital that we curb emissions as soon as possible to avoid an even greater rise, a German-led team of researchers said in a new report.

By 2300, the report projected that sea levels would gain by 0.7-1.2 metres, even if almost 200 nations fully meet goals under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Targets set by the accords include cutting greenhouse gas emissions to net zero in the second half of this century.

Ocean levels will rise inexorably because heat-trapping industrial gases already emitted will linger in the atmosphere, melting more ice, it said.

In addition, water naturally expands as it warms above four degrees Celsius (39.2°F).

Every five years of delay beyond 2020 in peaking global emissions would mean an extra 20 centimetres (8 inches) of sea level rise by 2300.

‘Sea level is often communicated as a really slow process that you can’t do much about … but the next 30 years really matter,’ lead author Dr Matthias Mengel, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, in Potsdam, Germany, told Reuters.

None of the nearly 200 governments to sign the Paris Accords are on track to meet its pledges.

 

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