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Thursday, August 20, 2015


My posting yesterday was far too lengthy, but that was for the three or four of you somewhere in the world hopelessly into ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC).  This Okinawa-Hawaii OTEC workshop continues today, but I've decided to later just summarize it.  The noteworthy development, which you can read in detail by scrolling down to the next day, is that at the end of that first day, an agreement was formally reached for all the stakeholders from Hawaii and Japan to partner in the funding, design, construction and operation of a 1 MW OTEC demonstration at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA). 

Tomorrow, Makai Ocean Engineering hosts a ceremony at NELHA commemorating OTEC electricity being fed to the Big Island electric grid.  When finally optimized, this will be a 105 kW operating plant.  There are thus, now, two OTEC power plants generating electricity.  The other one (left) is on Kumejima in Okinawa, now rated at 50 kW, but with the planned enhancements, to also attain 100 kW.  THIS WILL BE ELABORATED ON AT THE BOTTOM, BUT TYPHOON GONI, AT 130 MPH, IS PROJECTED TO HEAD TOWARDS THIS ISLAND!

Will Rolston, Energy Coordinator for the County, moderated.  A contribution was made by Mayor Haruo Ota to Mika Toyama for the Guy Toyama Memorial fund.

The keynote address was provided by George Iwama, Executive Vice President of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology:

  • opened in 2011 as a graduate program of excellence
  • first class in 2012 brought in students from 18 countries
  • accepts only up to 25 students/year, 80% from abroad and everyone is financially supported
  • 55 faculty members, more than half from beyond Japan, to grow to 300
  • goal is to be the best of its kind in science and to foster sustainability through interdisciplinary cooperation
  • they have a vice president for gender equity
  • hosts 40,000 visitors/year
  • projects
    • wavepower
    • DC-based open every systems
    • energy materials and surface sciences (transparent PV)
    • wave glider for oceanographic measurements
    • marine toxins for bioactive products
    • coral genome decoding
While science is the focus, it is clear real world applications seem to be endemic to all.

Neil Sims (who I'm proud to say I recruited to Hawaii 26 years ago), now in a partnership with Lockheed Martin called Forever Oceans, enlightened the audience on marine fish research at NELHA.  Here to the right Neil is showing a new type of fish that looks like a piece of mesh.  Nah, just joking, he is experimenting with how best to keep the fish inside the enclosure.  His current topics:
  • new offshore technologies (innovative meshes and drifting fish pens--recognized as one of TIME magazine's 25 best inventions in 2012)
  • new feedstuffs
  • new species (opakapaka, yellow fin tuna, giant grouper--can grow to 1000 pounds) for conservation and commercialization

By 2050, if nothing is done, the oceans will only have 10% the current marine seafood biomass with almost 2 billion more people to feed.

A series of speakers from Okinawa followed with presentations on current oceanic enterprises at the Okinawa deep sea lab:
  • Shinichiro Kakuma (Okinawa Prefecture Deep Sea Water Research Center)
    • 16 deep ocean water labs in Japan, and Kume Island has the largest
    • developed Kuruma prawn, the #1 shrimp of Japan
    • also sea grapes, asakusa nori, spinach, corals
    • 18 companies
  • Atsushi Omichi (Point Pyuru, cosmetics company)
    • markets beauty products derived from natural Okinawa ingredients
    • mostly skin conditioning and cleaning
    • at this stage, higher value products are necessary for the transition
  • Aki Yamashiro (Nanseikousan Company)
    • produces Kuruma Shrimp from the laboratory
    • has a hatchery center at the lab
    • less risk of infection
    • stable supply and planned production
    • can sell at higher price when natural production is low
  • Itsuki Asato (Kumejima Kaiyoushinshousui Kaihatsu Company)
    • produces sea grapes
    • only grows in Okinawa
    • deep sea water allows for continued growth in the summer
    • more than half of all sea grapes sold come from the lab
    • low in calories and high in nutrients
    • like caviar?
At this period of the lowest petroleum prices in 6.5 years, enthusiasm continues for OTEC and its various co-products.  The next phase will be this 1 MW OTEC partnership between the U.S. and Japan--Okinawa and Hawaii.  I took an aloha photo.  You would have seen me sitting in that empty chair, but the official workshop photo showed that I was the only workshop participant wearing shorts.

There are six ocean storms of note:

Let me begin with Typhoon Goni:

Projections show the eye heading for Miyakojima and Kumejima.  However, there should be some weakening into a Category 3 on approach to Okinawa.

Further east is Super Typhoon Atsani at 150 MPH:

Mercifully, Atsani appears now to be turning sufficiently east that even Ogasawara should be spared.  Japan should not be affected.

I might add that south of Hawaii is some disturbance which could become cyclonic:

The Atlantic has its first hurricane, Danny, which is tiny as hurricanes go, and should weaken as populated islands are reached.  

The irony is that these islands, especially Puerto Rico, have been suffering from a terrible drought, and they badly need the incoming rain.  There is sufficient wind shear and low moisture atmospheric conditions that Danny will weaken into a tropical storm before making any serious landfall.


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