CUC and OTEC still hopeful about ocean energy

| 24/09/2015 | 8 Comments
CNS Business

Artist’s impression of a commercial ocean thermal energy conversion system in the Cayman Islands

(CNS): The development of a commercial ocean thermal energy conversion system in the Cayman Islands remains a real possibility, according to both CUC and industry experts, Cayman OTEC. It is almost four years since CUC signed a non-binding ‘term sheet’ with the firm to begin a feasibility study in Grand Cayman, which is seen as an ideal location for this deep water technology that could provide renewable and continuous power if proven successful.  

In a statement to CNS Business, CUC said there was still a lot of work to be done to ensure the success of this project but the eventual objective is a Power Purchase Agreement between the parties that would see OTEC initially provide 6.3 megaWatts (MW), which could power up to 5,000 homes, with a longer term goal of providing 25MW to CUC — around a quarter of its power output.

“CUC has had an interest and kept abreast of this technology for over 15 years. We recognize that Grand Cayman is an ideal location for this deep water technology and that it could provide renewable and continuous power if proven successful,” the local power provider said.

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) is an energy technology that converts the ocean’s thermal energy into electric power. OTEC systems use the ocean’s natural thermal gradient — the fact that the ocean’s layers of water have different temperatures — to drive a power-producing cycle. As long as the temperature between the warm surface water and the cold deep water differs by at least 20°C (36°F), an OTEC system can produce a significant amount of power.

A clean and sustainable electricity generation option, the type of systems envisaged suit tropical climates and deep waters, such as the Cayman Islands, which could become the first Caribbean country to use ocean power to generate electricity.

Eileen O’Rourke, President of Cayman OTEC, said Grand Cayman was an ideal location for its first commercial ocean thermal energy conversion system.

“This type of renewable energy is gaining traction in other parts of the world, including Makai Ocean Engineering’s recent demonstration plant on the Big Island in Hawaii, which was commissioned and funded by the US Navy,” she said.

While the plant in Hawaii uses ocean thermal-energy, there are differences in the technology and output compared to the proposed project for Cayman, which could, if the company gets the go-ahead, be located off the coast of North Side. Unlike the Makai plant, which is land-based, Cayman OTEC plans an off-shore site for the project here, which officials said would respect the importance of local reefs and the sea bed. Coupled with other alternative power sources, if the technology proves successful, it could help cut CUC’s three million gallons annual dependency on diesel.

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Category: Alternative Energy, Local Business, Technology, Utilities

Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Crap, smoke and mirrors.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why can’t we just use solar energy and invest in solar panels on top of buildings etc would reduce energy bills for all concerned??

  3. Anonymous says:

    Even the artist picture attached to this story is a lie. Notice any of the large pipes that are needed to connect to the large land based facility? Everything associated with this project smells worse then week old fish!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Those of us who oppose this grand and dangerous experiment have wondered why the pro-OTEC folks have been quiet for so long. Do the authors of these articles do any research before spewing OTEC propaganda? There was a picture in the Compass that represents the Hawaiian LAND based unit that is on vacant land in an industrial park. Not floating on the pristine sea, ruining the vistas and potentially Cayman’s best resource, the sea and all that’s in it. The environmental impact study was targeted to be completed months ago. It must be around the corner as it is clear the propaganda and misinformation machinery are starting up. Now the push begins again. Look at Hawaii they say. Lets look; first thing you notice is the eyesore that the “experimental project” presents in the picture. It is not sea based why? The planned production platforms on north side will be many, many times that size as they are proposing to produce much more electricity here in Cayman (which has never been done anywhere). The facts have not changed; it is still unproven and presents imminent and real threat to our island and the many people and animal species directly impacted. I implore all people to search the web for Makai OTEC plant and see the pictures, the hype and what is in store for Cayman if this is allowed to move forward. The proposed platforms are gigantic and dangerous, the pipes to and from the sea and the land based structures are also huge, all a blight on the sea and land. On the eastend and other areas beachfront land is being bought up and there are plans to build resorts and commercial properties that will require large amounts of electricity. How convenient to allow the north side become the source of the needed electricity. Who cares if homeowners, business owners and animal species in the water, on the land and in the air are directly and irrevocably harmed? When it all goes sideways, (I predict it will, if it is allowed to proceed) who will pick up the pieces and pay for the damages and attempt to repair the environment? Anyone want to volunteer ? After all it’s only the north side, who really cares. Those in power will say. Has the government received bonds and indemnifications many times the cost of the project? This is ill conceived, dangerous and a sad example of self-interested people on each side of the equation dealing from the bottom of the deck for their own benefit. I pray that the authorities make the only decision that makes sense for all of Cayman and sends OTEC packing for good.

    • Anonymous says:

      Obviously you are not aware of how the technology has progressed in the last decade and the big engineering firms behind this endeavor. Please step out of your cave, it’s the 21st century, things are about to change for the good. This will happen, maybe not in Cayman but some island in the region will be leagues ahead of us when it happens.

  5. Cheryl says:

    An ocean based platform will destroy the reefs in Northside! Why would the government risk its greatest asset? Remember, Grand Cayman would be the beta test site for Cayman OTEC. Any project would only benefit OTEC by allowing them to attract investors and increase their investment portfolio.

    No other country has been foolish enough to allow a water based platform for good reason. It will have a detrimental impact on sea life! This technology is not proven. It is still in the research phase as evidenced by the minuscule plant in Hawaii. Most scientist agree it is a long way from providing any real sustainable power and the unknown impact to the sea out weighs the potential benefits. It is important to note that any OTEC facility will actually use much more power than it can produce. So where is the benefit to Grand Cayman?

    Tourism is the main revenue producer on the island; therefore the assets that contribute to tourism must be protected.

  6. Anonymous says:

    What a load of tripe CUC could care less about the environment its all about the money and as they are guaranteed to make a % on expenses including Diesel then why invest in technology that is sustainable and needs less to run.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is nuts. NS does not want or need this.

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