This Renewable Power Plant in Hawaii Uses Ocean Temperatures to Generate Energy

By: | September 19th, 2015

As the demand for renewable energy grows, several alternative production methods are being explored in the hope of finding a better energy solution for the future.

One of these alternative production methods includes Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC). OTEC is a process that can produce electricity by using the temperature difference between cold deep-ocean water and warm surface waters.

Although the history of OTEC dates back to 1881 when a French physicist proposed the concept, it wasn’t until 1930 that Cuba developed the first OTEC power plant. The plant was destroyed by storms soon after it was built. In the subsequent years, the technology never took off, largely because of decades of low prices for oil and other fossil fuels.

But now its back, after a small OTEC plant was inaugurated in Hawaii this month. The plant will harness the deep-ocean temperatures for power.

This 100-kilowatt plant built by Maki Ocean Engineering will be connected to the U.S. grid. The plant will generate energy to power only 120 Hawaiian homes.

Though it’s like a tiny drop in the ocean considering the island state’s energy needs for its population of over 1.4 million people, this small plant will pave the way for larger plants that will provide stable, clean power to a wider geographical area in future.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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