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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

OTEC: Pathway for Progress

Kerry Kehoe of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and I had an enjoyable lunch today at the Occidental Grill in Washington, D.C.  NOAA, of course, has a congressional mandate to help insure for the future of clean energy.  The second ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) bill introduced by then U.S Senator Dan Inouye in 1980, initially providing for this mission.  The Ocean and Coastal Resource Management arm of NOAA has historically provided management assistance for OTEC.

It seemed as we were in the same uniform, so in the future, when the weather is really cold (it felt like snow was coming this morning), this is the official attire (not blue, but brown jacket with black turtleneck, trousers and shoes) for OTEC advocates:


NOAA and the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology co-directed the International OTEC Symposium (Day One and Day Two) in Honolulu this past September, co-hosted by Kerry Kehoe and Heon-Ju Kim.  The sessions were moderated by Luis Vega of the University of Hawaii.  (Plans are in place for a second gathering in Busan, probably in June of 2014.)  There was a follow-up Hawaii-Okinawa Ocean Energy Workshop at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority.

As the individual who helped draft the first OTEC bill in 1979, I shared with Kerry some history and my personal views on an optimal OTEC pathway for progress.  I indicated that no government at any level, save, perhaps for China, and, maybe South Korea, will be apt to provide billion dollar budgets to develop OTEC.  Thus, Lockheed Martin has signed with the Reignwood Group (multi-national organization headquartered in China) a contract to develop the world's largest (10 MW) OTEC plant.  However, Blue Revolution Hawaii is seeking a billionaire or two to finance the Pacific International Ocean Station, to be powered by OTEC.

However, it is vitally important for NOAA and the Department of Energy to provide encouragement and fund R&D efforts for OTEC, as potential funders will seek advice from governments to proceed with larger scale pre-commercial projects.  NOAA for example produced "Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion:  Information Needs Assessment."  Similar federal sponsorship will be necessary from the European Community, Japan and other leading countries.  Our discussion included how best to catalyze international cooperation.  Certainly, the next symposium in Busan will attempt to bring together representatives from key nations.

For additional information, stay tuned to this blogsite or communicate with:

Kerry Kehoe 
Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (N/ORM3) 
NOAA National Ocean Service 
1305 East West Hwy., Room 11321 
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910-3281 
Phone: 301-563-1151 
Fax: 301-713-4367 
kerry.kehoe@noaa.gov

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