As a result of the expert meeting on OTEC/DOWA organized by the Commission of the European Community (EC) in Brussels in March 1992*, the European participants have now submitted their report and recommendations to Directorate-General for Science, Research and Development (DG XII) of the Commission.
The report noted that the present global demand for energy amounted to about 11 billion tons of coal units annually. This, as a worldwide average, equals about 2 tons per human being a year. In reality, in the industrialized countries 25% of the world population consume presently about 6 tons per person whereas the remaining 75% of the world population in the developing countries have just about 0.6 to 0.7 tons per person available annually.
The report further noted that the main reason for the continuous increase of CO2 concentrations in the atmonphere, which is of global concern, is mainly because of the relying on fossil fuels for energy consumption. Energy from OTEC is clean with no, or insignificant, CO2 emission as to compare with oil or coal power plants.
OTEC experiments drew on the Deep Ocean Water (DOW) as a key element of the energy system. However, besides its coldness, this water is also relatively pathogen-free and has a high concentration of nutrients. So, in addition to the energy, cooling and fresh water production, scientists have found other applications for this cold water for cultivation of marine organisms.
Developing countries request the transfer of environmentally clean and safe technologies from the industrialized countries. Development of OTEC and other DOWA can be adapted to show how such renewable energy, fresh water and food supplies could be an examplary demonstration of North-South, i.e. industrialized/developing cooperation for a sustainable future of our planet earth.
Having stated above, the report directed its attention to the Commission for action to be taken mainly for the benefit of the countries of the European Economic Cooporation Ara (EEA) and the OTEC/Group of European experts concludes that there is a necessity to define a policy for the European Industry in this sector.
This policy should aim to:
- Encourage and support the organization of a world-wide international cooperative effort of fundamental and applied research to fully explore the potential of DOW; to provide much needed energy, food and water resources, and to supply new sources of wealth. Also carefully to evaluate the environmental aspects of all DOWA concepts. DOW has many environmental benefits.
- Encourage and support European initiatives which aim to improve the follow-up of OTEC/DOWA development in other parts of the world, and analyze OTEC/DOWA progress in terms of new markets and foreign policy opportunities for Europe.
- Encourage European industry to develop the technologies and the expertise adapted to OTEC/DOWA requirements and also support European cooperative efforts when necessary for partners' mutual benefit.
To start implementing such a policy the EC/EEA OTEC/DOWA experts group addresses a series of recommendations to the Commission for the immediate future. It includes concrete actions to organize and support international cooperation including participation of European experts in the International OTEC/DOWA Association. At a further stage it also includes a recommendation for the construction of a full scale demonstration project of 5 to 10 MW.
The report clearly demonstrates that OTEC/DOWA offer the opportunity both for the substantial further development of EC/EEA countries technological capability, and for the winning of a very substantial new makret for EC/EEA industry to competition with countries, and multi-nation economic groupings, in other parts of the world.
There is a clear opportunity for the Commission to assist in enabling EC/EEA countries fully to develop this capability via the support of R&D programmes as described above.
The question is then:
"How the EC Commission will receive the message and how far it will follow the experts' recommendation?"