Lockheed Martin recently entered into an agreement with Beijing based Reignwood Group to develop and build a 10-megawatt Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) pilot power plant off the coast of southern China.
The offshore plant, to be designed by Lockheed Martin, will be the largest OTEC project developed to date, supplying 100 percent of the power needed for a green resort being developed by Reignwood. In addition, the agreement could lay the foundation for the development of several additional OTEC power plants, ranging in size from 10 to 100 megawatts, for a potential multibillion-dollar value.
Southern China is an ideal location for an OTEC plant, which uses the natural temperature differences found in the ocean of tropical regions to drive turbines that create electricity. The energy produced by an OTEC facility is clean, sustainable and well-suited to the ocean conditions found near 80 countries around the world, including in the Asia-Pacific.
Once the plant is operational, the two companies plan to use the knowledge gained to improve the design of the additional commercial-scale plants to be built over the next 10 years.
OTEC has the potential to offer global amounts of energy that are 10 to 100 times greater than other ocean energy options such as wave power. OTEC plants can operate continuously providing a base load supply for an electrical power generation system.
A US Dept of Energy study indicated a maximum for global OTEC power production of 30 terawatts. More modest scenarios show 7 terawatts having little impact.