Spotlight on Hawaii OTEC

From time to time I will be posting spotlights on current hydrothermal energy projects.

Today’s spotlight is a very exciting development in Hawaii – The new Makai Ocean Engineering installation at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority site on the island of Hawaii.

This project holds the auspicious recognition of being the first ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) power plant to be connected to the US power grid. It is a 100 kW power plant, producing enough energy to power 120 Hawaiian homes each year. The plant went online in August 2015.

Developers are hoping to use the plant in part to learn how to drive down the cost of heat exchangers, which currently account for 1/3 of the projected expense of a large OTEC plant. If the cost can be driven down OTEC will become far more feasible as an energy source.

While small, this project represents an important step towards implementing OTEC power on a large scale.

As an aside – considering a career in OTEC? Concerned about relocating? Hawaii, Guam, Okinawa – doesn’t seem like a hard choice to me!

Click here to visit the Makai website for more information.

Scientific American also has a great article on the project. 

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