by Paul C. Yuen and Carrie Matsuzaki, University of Hawaii; Andrew Trenka, PICHTR; and Joseph Vadus, National Ocean Service U.S.A.
Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) and deep ocean water applications (DOWA) can make significant contributions to the world, providing food, energy, fresh water, air conditioning and other useful products. Although economical accessibility to the deep ocean water occurs in specific parts of the globe, products of these areas can be exported and technology that is developed can be applied to other industries.
The United States government, Hawaii state government and private industry have invested in OTEC and DOWA research over the last twenty or so years. Funded activities have included Mini-OTEC, artificial upwelling studies, materials research, plant designs and other related activities. One stimulus for this interest was the rising cost of oil, especially during the late 1970 and early 1980s.
Present activities being conducted include the 210kW open-cycle facility in Hawaii and a myriad of DOWA activities (fresh water production, mariculture, air conditioning).