INTERVIEW - Makai aims at several 100-MW offshore OTEC plants
Makai's ocean thermal energy conversion R&D centre in Hawaii. Source: Makai. All Rights Reserved.
Hawaii-based company Makai Ocean Engineering is pursuing an "eventual goal" to build several offshore Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) plants with a capacity of 100 MW each in the future.
The provider of OTEC-related technology and engineering services is currently in early-stage talks with a Japanese consortium to build a 1-MW class land-based pilot OTEC facility at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) site in Hawaii. The project will serve as a springboard for larger offshore facilities, Duke Hartman, vice president of business development at Makai, told SeeNews Renewables.
“We believe this could be the first OTEC power plant that generates enough electricity revenue to fund its own operations and maintenance and produce a profit,” said Hartman.
The OTEC technology uses the temperature difference between the ocean’s cold deep water and warm surface water to produce renewable electricity that is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The generated power is baseload and dispatchable, which means that it can ramp its power up and down rapidly in order to complement intermittent renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.
Last month, Makai celebrated the completion of a 105-kW OTEC plant at the NELHA that will support the company's research and development (R&D) efforts aimed at reducing the cost of OTEC power. Makai estimates that roughly a dozen commercial-scale OTEC plants with a capacity of 100 MW each could power the whole state.
In addition to working on the new project at the NELHA, Makai is also developing its own marine-grade heat exchangers at lower cost than technologies currently on the market. It is also in discussions with developers for OTEC and seawater air conditioning systems in numerous locations around the world, Hartman added.