UK company looking into OTEC plants for Turks and Caicos Islands
Global OTEC has started talks with the government officials of Turks and Caicos Islands regarding the possible installation of an ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) plant for clean energy generation.
The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), an archipelago of 40 low-lying coral islands in the Atlantic Ocean, is building on its ‘Vision 2040’ policy by exploring possible OTEC sites.
Having a vast exclusive economic zone of ocean space and being in the tropics, TCI is well suited for OTEC, especially as the island state aims to achieve the goal of 33% of renewable energy by 2040.
At the beginning of March 2023, the Global OTEC team visited the country to present its technology and detail how OTEC is an ideal solution for powering the islands.
The meetings were held with TCI’s government, the Energy and Utilities Department (EUD) and Fortis TCI, the company currently responsible for the energy supply.
“Our desktop studies have shown TCI possesses the ideal combination of warm seawater all year round and easy access to cold deep water with continental shelves quickly falling to 1,000 meters (3,000 ft) within four kilometers of the shore. We are also very impressed by the investment and organization made into the grid and distribution network,” said Dan Grech, the founder and CEO of Global OTEC.
Currently, the country is powered almost exclusively via diesel generators. Therefore, the population pays not only for the generation and distribution but also for the fuel factor, which in recent years has significantly increase energy bills due to global events. Renewable energy acounts for less than 1% of the power consumed, although some new solar sites are planned.
During the visit, Global OTEC’s team conducted a field study in TCI off Providenciales to measure cold deep ocean water. From a deep-sea fishing vessel, the team sent two Aquatec’s Aqualogger 520s to 300 meters, which confirmed the dataset from the World Ocean Atlas (WOA) by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“We have produced cyclonic MetOcean models for the 100-year storm near Providenciales to validate that the performance of our floating OTEC platform will be suitable for tropical storm zones like this,” added Grech.
Based on existing academic and research papers that are in the public domain, the environmental impacts of an OTEC platform are believed to be minimal but require further research.
A full Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report, compliant with international standards, will need to be conducted to identify and address any points of concern. The operational noise and vibration levels will be addressed from an OTEC system design perspective, and also comply with ESIA recommendations for marine flora and fauna, the company said.
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