Makai connects OTEC plant to US grid

Makai Ocean Enegineering has completed the ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) power plant and connected it to the Hawaiian electricity grid.

Makai’s OTEC power plant uses the temperature difference between the ocean’s cold deep water and warm surface water to generate clean and renewable electricity.

The plant is located at Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA), and it’s generation capacity is 100 kW, which is enough to power 120 Hawaiian households, Makai’s press release reads.

The cold water intake pipeline for the current 100 kW OTEC plant is approximately 1 m in diameter, bringing water from a depth of 670 m.

The plant will primarily serve to research, design, test, and evaluate OTEC heat exchangers – a main component in an OTEC plant, according to Makai.

David Ige, the Governor of Hawaii, said: “This plant provides a much-needed test bed to commercialize ocean thermal energy conversion technology and bolster innovation, and it serves as a stepping stone to larger plants that will provide meaningful amounts of stable, clean power to Hawaii and other locations in Asia Pacific such as Okinawa in the near future.”

Through the Japan-US clean energy agreement, Hawaii and Okinawa have teamed up for the potential joint development of a 1 MW OTEC system.

Okinawa currently has a similar OTEC cycle in operation, and on August 19, 2015, Makai, NELHA and a consortium of Japanese companies signed a memorandum of understanding with the intention of jointly constructing a 1 MW class plant at NELHA.

Duke Hartman, Makai’s VP of Business Development, said: “We are thrilled to flip the switch on this important OTEC demonstration plant, which will deliver OTEC power to the grid and serve as a test bed to reduce the cost and improve the performance of OTEC technologies. Based on the lessons learned at this facility, we are working hand-in-hand with several of the world’s leading OTEC developers to design the next generation of commercial OTEC plants.”

Governor Ige and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard at opening ceremony


The research and development at the plant was funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) through the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), and the infrastructure was funded by Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC).

Accumulated electricity revenues from this power plant will sustain further research and development of OTEC technology, Makai’s press release reads.

Makai Ocean Engineering is an ocean technology firm based in Hawaii whose field of expertise includes submarine cables, marine pipelines, seawater air conditioning (SWAC), OTEC, autonomous underwater vehicles, marine corrosion, and general marine engineering and research and development.

[mappress mapid=”611″]