The feasibility of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion in Australia

Essay by darkwhite87College, UndergraduateA, September 2006

download word file, 25 pages 5.0

Executive Summary

The purpose of this report is to investigate the feasibility of establishing an OTEC plant in Australia to produce renewable electricity. This report outlines the amount of electricity that could potentially be produced, potential additional benefits, likely costs and economic issues, technical limitations, environmental effects, and suitable sites.

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) is an alternative energy source that converts solar energy to electric power. It uses the temperature difference between layers of the ocean which is in fact the natural temperature gradient of the ocean to power the system.

A series of experiments and several studies have been conducted, examining the major benefits of OTEC. Results based on conventional air conditioning system suggest that the use of deep ocean cold water may reduce the consumption of electrical energy because the cold water system delivers more efficient power. The deep ocean water discharged from the OTEC plant was found to be rich in nutrients, which allowed it to be used to rear cold-water delicacies.

In light of this finding, a possible outcome is the increase in consumer demand for marine products thereby offering new employment opportunities. Preliminary experimental data based on large-scale plants suggest that large quantities of water may be produced from the OTEC cycle and comparable results are expected for smaller OTEC plants. Recent experiments have demonstrated that temperate climate crops may be grown in coastal desert areas irrigated by pipes carrying deep ocean cold water.

The environmental impact of OTEC is small compared to traditional power plants, but the effects are magnified when implemented on a larger scale. Potential thermal pollutions caused by the continual use of cold deepwater and warm surface water would make an OTEC plant unsuitable for sensitive marine environments including the Great Barrier Reef.

Although OTEC has shown promise of producing...