Ocean-thermal energy to debut in the Bahamas

Ocean Thermal Energy and Bahamas Electricity have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop two ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) plants in the Bahamas.

Upon completion, the two plants will be the world’s first commercially viable ocean-thermal plants that produce electricity and potable water, while also providing a site for commercial sustainable food production.

Ocean thermal technology uses the temperature differential between warm surface seawater and cold deep ocean water to generate both baseload electricity and potable water.

Warm surface water is used to boil ammonia into steam, which spins a turbine. Then, cool water is used to condense the ammonia, providing a seamless process for generating electricity. 

The technology can also purify water for agricultural use, and use cool seawater to meet refrigeration and district cooling needs (see illustration below). 

In the United States, an ocean thermal energy conversion project is ongoing off the coast of Hawaii, with the U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command turning to Lockheed Martin to design a plant.

The agreement will support the construction of the two plants, which will be owned and operated by Ocean Thermal. 

Power produced by the plants will be purchased by Bahamas Electricity, the largest utility in the region, serving 85 percent of all electricity customers in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.

“OTEC is a market-driven clean technology energy solution that will have a positive impact for millions of people in the years to come,” said Jeremy P. Feakins, chairman of the board and chief executive officer at Ocean Thermal.  

“While these first two OTEC plants are an important step in the right direction, in the near future we look forward to building additional OTEC plants with even higher capacity offering clean power generation, potable water production and sustainable food production.”

Lauren Craig, EarthTechling