Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC
) is a renewable energy source that leverages the temperature difference of the ocean's warm surface water and colder water below. The U.S. Department of Energy has recently awarded Lockheed Martin with two grants totaling $1 million to support their efforts to make this a viable technology. Lockheed Martin's experience with OTEC technology dates back to the 1970s when the company built an early prototype that remains the world's only floating OTEC system to generate self-sustaining power.
Under the first grant, Lockheed Martin will develop a tool that will identify regions of the world viable for OTEC and seawater-based air conditioning (SWAC), which will provide critical information about regional OTEC and SWAC feasibility. SWAC uses cold seawater located near coastlines to supply air-conditioner coolant and can potentially reduce electric utility loads during high demand periods. It is a proven technology currently in use in Hawaii, Bora Bora, Stockholm, and Ottawa.
Developing estimates of the performance and lifecycle costs related to utility-scale OTEC systems and analyzing their economic feasibility is the subject of the second grant. The goal is to provide justification for pursuing commercialization of OTEC and generate investment interest in this as a renewable energy source. [read more]