by Martin Brown McDermott Engineering (Europe) Ltd. U.K.
The development of OTEC has been constrained by the inability of the technology to provide a sufficiently high return on investment. However, recently it has become clear that the oceans' thermal gradients can be used for more than just the production of electricity. Potential additional co-products include reduced cost air conditioning, fresh water generation and aquaculture/aquarium products. Another possibility is to design and build the OTEC system as part of a hotel leisure complex.
This paper evaluates the potential of Grand Cayman Island as a site for such an integrated system. Grand Cayman has the required ocean temperature difference close to shore as well as a tourist based economy which could provide a market for the OTEC co-products. In particular, electricity and fresh water prices are all high due to reliance on expensive imported fuel. A further asset is that development finance may be available from the Cayman Isles banking sector which benefits from "tax haven" status.
To assess the commercial potential of an integrated system, an investment appraisal analysis has been undertaken for a number of different schemes and configurations.This required a review of the suitability of various potential coastal sites on Grand Cayman. In addition, up to date costings have been acquired for equipment purchase and construction. The revenues that are obtained for the OTEC co-products take into account existing commodity prices and demand on Grand Cayman as well as future growth. The analysis illustrates that an integrated OTEC system could provide a profitable new business for the Cayman Isles.