New Opportunities for OTEC in India

The ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) in India has declared that ocean energy is officially a renewable energy source and now falls under Renewable Purchase Obligations (RPO).

This recent Policy change offers new opportunities for OTEC in India.

The RPO states power suppliers are required to procure a part of their power from renewable sources. By including Ocean Power as a renewable source, investing in OTEC is made more attractive. This development stimulates research and funding.

National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), the leading OTEC institute in India with an OTEC test lab and multiple operating low temperature thermal desalination (LTTD) plants, is said to be thrilled about these policy developments.

Considering the importance of fresh water for islands, LTTD plants of 100 m3/day capacities were established in the Kavaratti, Minicoy and Agatti Islands in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. Combining these LTTD systems with OTEC can make the desalination process self-sufficient and provide power to the grid.

India has the potential to generate 180,000 MW using OTEC, which demonstrates the prospects for OTEC in India in the future.

LTTD uses the temperature difference in the ocean to create clean drinking water. The warm water at the ocean surface is evaporated in a low-pressure chamber, after which the water vapour is lead to another chamber to be condensed. The condensation is done using the cold water pumped up from the deep sea resulting in purified drinking water.

This is said to be an environmentally friendlier method of producing drinking water than the energy-intensive reverse osmosis (RO) technology. Also, LTTD does not require any chemical pre- and post-treatment of seawater and requires less maintenance compared to other the RO desalination process. The required seawater infrastructure, cold and warm seawater pipelines, for LTTD is the same for OTEC.