liveonearth (liveonearth) wrote,

Generating Power from Temperature Gradients in the Ocean

OTEC = Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion

Have you heart about the ongoing research to generate electrical power using the temperature gradient of the ocean? Lockheed Martin started working on the idea in the 1970's, with an intermission in funding due to Republican presidents. Lockheed is teaming up with MIT now to give it another try. The Navy is also getting involved in the research, because they'd like to power bases this way.

Of course this technology will not be our energy salvation. For it to be a reasonable option you need both deep ocean and warm tropical currents nearby. But it could be one more piece of the puzzle of how to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

It looks like the first place a full scale model will be tested if off the coast of Hawaii. The Pacific around Hawaii is already much changed. I think I may have posted about the islands of mucilage that are floating around, and the way that the beaches there seem to host more than their fair share of antibiotic resistant Staphylococcus.

The questions that I do not see being addressed involved what impact the temperature changes down-current from the plants will have. If we alter or lose the stratification of cold and warm water in the ocean, it is sure to impact the species that live there. It might even change the currents, and from that the weather on neighboring continents. Anything that we choose to do on a grand scale may have even grander effects. We need to test such ideas with an eye to the future, rather than simply implementing broadly anything that seems to work.

I found out about this from a post on the _scientists_ community though I must say that the scientists there are not particularly eager to entertain new ideas. Their comments so far on this post are snarky, and I get the impression that the poster is not respected. Still, I am willing to entertain any grand new idea that purports to offer a major power source for our future. What do you think of this one?
Tags: electricity, energy, hawaii, military, oceans, sustainable, technology, the long emergency, weather

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