Archive for December, 2008

PostHeaderIcon Utah startup hits geothermal jackpot

This is what I was talking about as far as funding being proportional to visions & how federal officials will just wait for stuff to come to them. Further, it looks like there’s a consensus building around federal funding for a new power grid to link remote power stations to the network. From Washington Post 12/23/08

Senior aides in the new administration and the congressional leadership privately predict that they will be able to please both camps [spend infrastructure now vs spend green slowly]but suggest that there have been delays in identifying enough of the environmentally friendly projects to reach a dollar level that will truly jump-start the economy.

Why the delay? Its not clear. My guess is that not enough green power projects pencil for private capital due  to current tax laws and grid infrastructure constraints.  Also there is this.  Remember back in June the BLM put a two year freeze on solar development pending environmental review? Someone needs to have a heart to heart with those folk and maybe mention something about it to DOI secretary designate Salalazar.

Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has circulated a 41-page memo seeking $85 billion worth of projects over the next two years. The largest chunk of that money, more than $30.2 billion, would go toward highway funds, while $12 billion would go to local public transportation funds. An additional $14.3 billion would go toward “environmental infrastructure,” with most going to a clean-water fund.

Its not clear as yet what that clean water fund will consist of.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who supports both medical technology and wind farm projects, said it may take longer to pump the money into those projects, but said that is why Obama set out a two-year plan. In that time span, Nelson said, a “smart grid” could be funded that would connect wind farms and solar power hot spots around the country, delivering power in a cleaner fashion.

There is increasing talk of this grid funded by the government. So going forward– I would categorize this project as…likely.

The battle has Democratic negotiators on Capitol Hill trying to decide how to spend the money — and whom to please. Said Peppard: “One minute they want to spend it quickly, the next minute they want to spend it well.”

Curiously Geothermal energy development is taking off on BLM lands without much ado. Remember how Hawaii is harnessing 50 degree differentials between deep and surface ocean temperatures with heat exchangers off the Big Island? Same thing is happening with geothermal. Luke hot water (150 degrees)is being harvested with the help of heat exchangers– where it couldn’t be harvested before. They are financing the projects with private capital and using available infrastructure to get the electricity to market. I’ve copied and pasted the article below. It make for interesting reading because it shows you what is already in motion. How will this relate to water development –especially in the west? I’m not sure. But I know this. Water and power go hand in hand. With power due to come out of every hill, hollow and plain out West and some parts of the East -interesting possibilities for desalination seem more available. Might be a good idea to map over best solar, wind and geothermal resources — onto deep briny aquifers. Also, drop in the location of coal power plants. Oh and, as well, for fun, throw in the locations of ¬† gypsum¬† in deep wide flat deposits near the surface of desert valleys.¬† Then overlay BLM lands on that.

Anyhow, check out what’s happening with geothermal.

Utah startup hits geothermal jackpot
Wed Dec 24, 2008 11:52 AM EST
geothermal, rush, business
Paul Foy, AP Business Writer

PROVO — Within six months of discovering a massive geothermal field, a small Utah company had erected and fired up a power plant — just one example of the speed with which companies are capitalizing on state mandates for alternative energy.

Anticipation of new energy policies has sparked a rush on land leases as companies like Raser Technologies Inc., based in Provo, lock up property that hold geothermal fields and potentially huge profits.

Raser’s find, about 155 miles southwest of Provo, could eventually power 200,000 homes.

The company said it will begin routing electricity to Anaheim, Calif. within weeks.

Earlier this month, California adopted the nation’s most sweeping plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“We made a pleasant discovery, let’s put it that way,” said Brent M. Cook, the company’s chief executive.

The number of government land leases and drilling permits have risen quickly, said Kermit Witherbee, who heads up the leasing program for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, with more than two dozen companies now trying to make a score like Raser.

Two years ago, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management approved 18 geothermal drilling permits. That number more than doubled in 2007 and has nearly quadrupled this year.

The government leased a staggering 244,000 acres for geothermal development in the past 18 months. Another 146,339 acres went up for bid Friday in Utah, Oregon and Idaho.

All of it was claimed.

Raser’s find “has the potential to become one of the more important geothermal energy developments of the last quarter century,” said Greg Nash, a professor of geothermal exploration at the University of Utah.

The company quickly redrew its business plan, bumping up its planned development of 10 megawatts of power to 230 megawatts. That is in line with the field’s power potential according to calculations by GeothermEX Inc., a consulting firm.

By comparison, the largest group of geothermal plants in the world are The Geysers, about 60 miles northeast of San Francisco. The Geysers geothermal basin produces about 900 megawatts of energy, enough to power the city, said Ann Robertson-Tait, a senior geologist and vice president of business development for GeothermEX.

Geothermal technology creates energy using heat that is stored in the earth. But geothermal still generates less than 1 percent of the world’s energy, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency.

“The outlook for geothermal is great,” said Brian Yerger, an energy analyst for New York-based Jesup & Lamont.

Geothermal companies are relatively small players in the energy market and have had to scramble to lock up financing, particularly during a recession.

Merrill Lynch & Co. has pledged to fund Raser’s first 100 megawatts of projects and says it is staying in the game.

“We’ve done a lot with Raser,” said Merrill Lynch spokeswoman Danielle Robinson. “We’re very committed to the company.”

Cook said his company can raise additional money from joint ventures and stock sales. “This is where the money flows, to alternative energy projects that pencil out,” he said. The company made its first major stock sale Nov. 14 to Fletcher Asset Management of New York.

“We are enthusiastic about our investment,” said Kell Benson, Fletcher’s vice chairman. The firm bought $10 million in stock at $5 a share, with an option to double the stake.

Raser and its supplier, UTC Power, plan to build another seven geothermal energy plants across the western United States by the end of 2009 and 10 plants a year for the next decade.

The push for geothermal power has been accelerated by state mandates like those in California, which this month said utilities must obtain a third of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Raser, which specializes in low-boil geothermal sites, started buying leases five years ago on hundreds of thousands of acres that had been passed over because of their lower heat potential.

New technology, however, has made low-boil water useable for geothermal power. Raser buys 250-kilowatt power units from UTC Power, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.

Geothermal is also being used on a smaller scale.

“These things are slot machines. They make money,” said Bernie Karl, owner of Chena Hot Springs Resort, off the grid 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks, Alaska. On geothermal energy from early UTC prototypes, Karl powers light bulbs, heats lodges and rooms for 210 guests, warms a greenhouse that grows food and spices, keeps an ice house frozen and makes hydrogen for resort vehicles.

Raser hit hot water at a few thousand feet below the surface circulating inside a zone of porous limestone a mile deep. The underground “lake” cycles hot water endlessly under the power of the Earth’s internal heat like a steam engine, throwing up loops of hot water intersected by wells that return it to the system.

The company holds rights to 78 square miles of land in the area and believes it has barely tapped the full potential.

PostHeaderIcon Sen. Ken Salazar DOI Steven Chu DOE

In my last post, I mentioned a number of popular ideas to advance alternative energy development. But I didn’t attribute them because nothing had been written of incoming administration officials as yet. A couple of days later several major newspapers mentioned ideas of incoming administration officials which included ideas I talked about. So I inserted these in my last post. If you went to my last post early check back. (Just skim down and check¬† the writing in block quotes.) This week’s post includes a piece from the Wall St Journal which mentions another popular idea I mentioned in my last post.

How about renewable energy? Dr. Chu already had a taste of Washington power-brokering, in a briefing with current Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. He pitched them on the idea of an interstate electricity transmission system to be paid for by ratepayers. That would solve one of the biggest hurdles to wide-spread adoption of clean energy like wind and solar power.

This is interesting because Dr. Chu is the president elect’s choice to lead the DOE.

The president elect’s choice for the Dept of Energy is Dr. Chu. Dr. Chu‚Äôs marquee work at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is the Helios Project. That‚Äôs an effort to tackle what Dr. Chu sees as the biggest energy challenge facing the U.S. transportation. That‚Äôs because it‚Äôs a huge drain on U.S. coffers and an environmental albatross, Dr. Chu says. Helios has focused largely on biofuels‚Äîbut not the bog-standard kind made from corn and sugar. The Energy Biosciences Institute, a joint effort funded by BP, is looking to make second-generation biofuels more viable. Among the approaches? Researching new ways to break down stubborn cellulosic feedstocks to improve the economics of next-generation biofuels, and finding new kinds of yeast to boost fermentation and make biofuels more plentiful while reducing their environmental impact.

Include algae to fuel in that mix. David Chu does not like coal.

Big Coal won’t be very happy if Dr. Chu gets confirmed as head of the DOE—he’s really, really not a big fan. “Coal is my worst nightmare,” he said repeatedly in a speech earlier this year outlining his lab’s alternative-energy approaches.

Ken Salazar is the president’s pick¬† to head up the Dept of the Interior. How will he affect water policy? Likely he will be very innovative.

He was raised on a ranch in the San Luis Valley of southern Colorado, and became an attorney with an expertise in water law. “In rural areas,” Salazar said in an interview this summer, “they understand water as their lifeblood.”

How will Salazar be on energy? He’ll be tough on oil¬† interests.

Earlier this year, Salazar criticized the department for decisions to open Colorado’s picturesque Roan Plateau for drilling. Salazar said the regulations to begin opening land for oil shale development would “sell Colorado short.”

He’s a fan of alternative energy.

The senator campaigned vigorously for Obama in Colorado, a swing state, barnstorming rural areas in a recreational vehicle while preaching alternative-energy development and its potential to revitalize rural economies. After the election, Salazar publicly urged Obama to build his planned economic stimulus package around investments in energy infrastructure.

It might be a good idea to invite Ken Salazar to the national salinity summit. So that he can see some slides that show the best places for solar and wind overlapped with the deepest briny aquifers. He’ll already know Senator Pete Domenici’s saying that you need water to make power and vice versa. He’ll also know that the hoover dam produces both power and water; that too, the hoover dam is the foundation for the economies of the southwest–and its profitable. He may see that the best way to get brackish water desalination plants is to site and budget them with solar and windmill power plants. Then it would be his job to sell the idea to DOE elect Dr. Chu.

“It’s time for a new kind of leadership in Washington that’s committed to using our lands in a responsible way to benefit all our families,” Obama said

Come to think of it, it might be a good idea to invite a bunch of solar wind and desal executives to the National Salinity Conference.

imho Senator Salazar will be interested in accelerated funding for all forms of desalination R&D from Proifera plus a dozen other cutting edge membrane companies to left handed ideas like low temperature cooking water out of gypsum. As well, I would think for experimental reasons both men would be interested in siting at least one solar/desal plant near a coal plant so as to pump the coal plant’s waste CO2 into algae geenhouses. I’ve mentioned this in posts here & here. Texas might be the best place for this because¬† they have CO2 emitting industrial plants there,sunlight and briny aquifers. There are others.

I think that both Senator Salazar and Dr Chu should be urged to fund research into cheap smart energy efficient water pipelines mentioned here, here and here. I mentioned an initial slant well experiment in the Santa Barbara channel with a Profiera membrane here. Further they should be appraised that the ultimate goal in +-7 years of nanotube and pipeline research are  pipes with one end in the salty pacific through which only fresh water flows inland to points all over the desert southwest. Toward this end, I could easily see several lines of solar power plants in the empty deserts there that point to Arizona. These might double as pumping stations in the future for water pipelines that push water eastward.

Finally it might be helpful to do a little more detailed ranking for best places to site desal/solarwind plants. Ranking might include:

1.)distance from electric AND water grids

2.) ease of getting federal state & local permissions.

3.) time to project ground breaking.

If the DOI was onboard, likely the quickest places to break ground would be BLM lands.
Herbert Hoover as Commerce Secretary signed the initial enabling legislation for the Hoover Dam on November 24, 1922. Ground was not broken on the Hoover Dam until 10 years later in 1932.

That’s a very leisurely pace to ground breaking. Things won’t be nearly so leisurely this time.

Lawrence Summers, the former Treasury Secretary who will head Obama’s National Economic Council, has said a fiscal stimulus will have to be “speedy, substantial and sustained.” Congressional leaders have indicated that spending could even be as large as the $700 billion bailout, but details of how and where the money will be distributed are unknown.

So be forewarned. In the next year or two — guys¬† will come into your office blue in the face with tension. Help them along their way. Why? Because the very best investment¬† the government can make is in water and energy. Why? Because water and energy provide the basis for growth in the economy and the government’s future tax base.

said Eric Schmidt, chief executive of Google Inc. and an Obama economic adviser, in an interview. “You would want to invest in something that would not just physically build a bridge, but would help build businesses that would create more wealth.”

That would be water and energy. Why is this important politically? The reason is–this is not a settled issue. The talk is now for +-50 billion to allocate for green projects. But it could be more or less depending on the projects presented –and the vision thing.

Even so, the Obama team remains split over how much money to devote to green and high-tech projects, and how much to focus on traditional infrastructure.

In purely economic terms, a traditional infrastructure building spree might provide the biggest bang, Mr. Zandi said. But, he added, “there’s something to be said for an infrastructure program that captures the imagination, because confidence is just shot.”

The way to settle this in favor of green energy and water desalination projects is to present projects that can be implemented quickly. Oh and one more thing. The size of the investment will depend on the size of the vision.

A National Salinity Summit that can conclude with best sites for solar/wind/desal plants can give solar/wind/desal players legs. Even this is a step behind. Nor is it the big vision I’ve talked about for a couple years.

As it is the big cities already have their make work projects lined up.

PostHeaderIcon Hawaii Governor Signs Ocean Thermal Energy Deal

I registered recently for the National Salinity Summit in Las Vegas in January. Its pretty convenient for me this time as I have an internet marketing conference to attend that week. All I have to do is hop from one hotel to another because the conferences come one right after the other.

I noticed that a theme of the desalination conference is water and energy projects combined. Before I get started on this post I think it should be mentioned that now is a very good time for financing public or private energy/water projects. On the private side– over a trillion dollars have come out of the stock market. People are really fried by their losses. Dull returns obtained by financing water projects can look pretty good to these folk now. All ya gotta do is create the investment vehicles, draw up the blueprints, get all the state federal and local permissions and show that the state or someone will buy the water. So investors can say this is a great way to preserve capital plus make a few points — plus do something green.

It also looks very much like the federal government is gearing up to spend several hundred billion dollars on public works and/or energy projects. Funding will not come slowly: According to the NY Times

Mr. Obama promised to set new rules to govern spending, such as a “use it or lose it” requirement that states act quickly

Democrats hope the new Congress that takes office in early January could pass such a measure in time for Mr. Obama to sign almost instantly after taking office Jan. 20.

These public works projects include solar and wind farms. According to the “>Washington Post.

President-elect Barack Obama is developing a plan to create or preserve 2.5 million jobs over the next two years by spending billions of dollars to rebuild roads and bridges, modernize public schools, and construct wind farms and other alternative sources of energy.

Obama said his plan would launch “a two-year nationwide effort to jump-start job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy. We’ll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing schools that are failing our children, and building wind farms and solar panels,” as well as producing fuel-efficient cars.

President-elect Obama’s alternative energy plan, called New Energy for America, could have a significant impact on the U.S. solar industry. The plan’s provisions include:

* A federal renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that requires 10 percent of electricity consumed in the U.S. to come from renewable sources by 2012.
* A $150 billion investment over 10 years in research, technology demonstration, and commercial deployment of clean energy technology.
* Extension of production tax credits for five years to encourage renewable energy production.
* A cap-and-trade system of carbon credits to provide an incentive for businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A well designed package — that is not experimental–will attract public money. Someone, or some group with a really creative financing ability imho could just leverage public & private financing off each other across a variety of power projects. A model could be built that could be replicated. Really, this is one seriously opportune moment for this kind of thing. Is there an ambitious consulting agency in the house? Really. How do you do this? I don’t know. Invite some people from wall st to the conference. Fund a couple of different sharp consultants and or agencies. Pair them up with various federal and state officials. Really, this is one seriously opportune moment for this kind of thing. The kicker is to scale it. That is you know. Once you get a model you replicate it.

For example last year we were shown a very interesting slide –which I can’t find now. The slide shows the best places for solar and wind power projects. You can generally figure that the best places for solar are in the southwest and the best places for wind are in the midwest. Well, a great presentation would be to map over best places for energy and wind power plants onto deepest/widest brackish aquifers. Choose the 10-20 best places for both power and water generation. In terms of cost rank them by proximity to the grid and/or end users.

These places are usually far from the power grid. So you might get the federal government to pay for the utility lines to the grid–maybe even water pipelines–but not maintenance. (Certainly that would be cheaper than piping water down from Alaska or Canada.) Heck the government might be interested in funding the solar or wind farms outright. Certainly there are certain tax advantages that coal plants enjoy because the cost of their coal can be deducted whereas the wind and the sun cannot be deducted from taxes. Set these tax advantages aside. That is, don’t raise taxes on the coal plants but rather give solar power plants comparable tax advantages. Some of this is already in the works. According to the WSJ.

Green-technology advocates, for their part, want to include such elements as a multiyear extension of a tax credit for investment in wind power, plus another credit for solar-power makers. All told, they estimate the green component could be $50 billion, or 10% of the overall package.

Get the federal state & local governments to provide the permissions and right of ways. (And uh, someone will need to have a little heart to heart with the BLM.) A cheap energy source cuts into energy costs for desalination plants. Brackish water desalinizes relatively cheaply. Guarantee a buyer. Shouldn’t be too hard in the southwest. Might even be easy for the upper midwest. With that in place bring in the private investors fo fund the water desal plants (and whatever portion of the power plants the feds won’t do. (Maybe this could be funded/profited all publicly or all privately. I’m just throwing out one model.) Some of this is already in planning.

Some of the stimulus plan’s targets may be so complicated that the Obama team will need subsequent legislation to make it work, Mr. Schmidt said. The economic plan might set aside money for renewable-energy projects, and in subsequent legislation, mandate that utilities use electricity generated by sources such as wind and solar projects.

Now I’m ready to talk about the ocean. The deep ocean.

In my last post, I mentioned that membranes may be so efficient that maybe¬† five years from now you could drill a slant well out a couple hundred feet into the Santa Barbara Channel, attach an efficient membrane on the end and let fresh water flow downhill toward shore. Current membrane technology would require that you place the membranes at about 1700 feet–but in the future perhaps you would need only go down 100-200 feet.

Nice idea.

Interestingly, today there is a big business for deep desalinated water that comes from off the shore of the Big Island in Hawaii. Its expensive bottled water. The Japanese love the stuff.

The drop off from the big island is so steep that they don’t have to go far from shore to reach 1700 feet. However, the salt water is not desalinated at 1700 feet.

The state pumps the water using two pipes that go down 2,000 feet and then transports it to the companies, which do the desalination, filtering, bottling and packaging. The state will soon complete construction of a new 55-inch pipe that goes 3,000 feet deep.

That was written in 2004. There are now two pipelines that run up from the deep off the Big Island.

We’re talking bottled water here. The Japanese think the desalinated deep sea water is something special. That may well be the case. Why? A lot of sea creatures thrive on the mineral content provided by the deep water.There is a commercial experimental station on the Big Island with one very big idea. Deep water can be used for many commercial purposes. A great field trip for American water officials would be a visit to that Big Island Experimental facility. Why? Because discussions with businesses there will help water officials to think of brackish or seawater water salts and minerals not as waste but as a resource.

It looks like they’ll be adding energy production to that process.

Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle Tuesday announced a new energy partnership to develop a 10 megawatt ocean thermal energy conversion pilot plant in Hawaii. Electricity will be generated from the difference in temperature between the ocean’s warm surface and its colder depths.

Now before I go to the article, notice how they will be combining water and power production together. But notice something further. Power and water production are the basis for a food chain. An ecosystem. That’s what the business experimental station on the Big Island shows. That’s what the Hoover Dam provides. It provides the basis of an ecosystem food chain. The Cadillac Desert. How? By providing both power and water. Same would go for solar/wind desal projects. They would become the basis for new ecosystem food chains.

Remember this language that I’m using. Ecosystem. Food chain. This language is the language that people in the incoming administration use when describing their online systems. Consider this discussion of Google strategy.

I am very impressed lately by Google’s commitment to open source. Specifically, I love their strategy of what I call the ‘Catch and Release’ strategy for developing their ecosystem of developers and partners.

They are certainly doing a lot of land grabbing, but they are releasing their innovations and improvements as open source. This strategy for ecosystem development is much different than Microsoft’s old model (closed ecosystem embrace and extend). Google is earning credibility in a new way by enabling key technology and then by releasing code for open for open collaboration and development РCatch and Release.

Now listen to Eric Schmidt, chief executive of Google Inc–an Obama economic adviser, discuss the incoming administrations spending strategy,

“America’s unique excellence is innovation, and it’s easy to understand businesses that innovate are the ones that have the longest and largest kinds of impact,” said Eric Schmidt, chief executive of Google Inc. and an Obama economic adviser, in an interview. “You would want to invest in something that would not just physically build a bridge, but would help build businesses that would create more wealth.”

Here Mr Schmidt is talking the language of real estate developers. You buy a piece of property on the outskirts of the city in the path of development, upgrade the land by putting in water and power (Sewage too, depending on how much time and money you have. And then rezone the land.)

While its clear that water and energy go together. They are basis of any food chain. Why is this important politically?

Even so, the Obama team remains split over how much money to devote to green and high-tech projects, and how much to focus on traditional infrastructure.

In purely economic terms, a traditional infrastructure building spree might provide the biggest bang, Mr. Zandi said. But, he added, “there’s something to be said for an infrastructure program that captures the imagination, because confidence is just shot.”

In terms of sales pitches — the Hoover Dam was emblematic of the New Deal. Solar/Wind/desal projects could be emblematic of the new Admin. There are others–like the Hawiian project below. The point is always the same. Water and energy projects go together, they create wealth and they capture the imagination.

Anyhow, here is the article. (Oh and notice how the DOE, the state of Hawaii, Taiwan Industrial Technology Research Institute, and Lockheed Martin work together. For future purposes substitute any American Laboratory for the TTRI.)

Hawaii Governor Signs Ocean Thermal Energy Deal
TAIPEI, Taiwan, November 20, 2008 (ENS) – Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle Tuesday announced a new energy partnership to develop a 10 megawatt ocean thermal energy conversion pilot plant in Hawaii. Electricity will be generated from the difference in temperature between the ocean’s warm surface and its colder depths.

Governor Lingle made the announcement from Taiwan, where she is meeting with officials to promote tourism and business partnerships as part of her ongoing 11 day trip to Asia.

During the Governor’s official state visit to Taiwan, she came to an agreement with the Taiwan Industrial Technology Research Institute and the Lockheed Martin Corporation to build the initial pilot plant in Hawaii.

OTEC systems work by converting solar radiation to electric power. As long as the temperature between the warm surface water and the cold deep water differs by about 36¬?F, an OTEC system can produce a significant amount of power, turning the oceans a vast renewable resource, with the potential to produce billions of watts of electric power.

“As island economies in the Pacific, Taiwan and the State of Hawaii share very similar challenges of overdependence on imported petroleum for their energy needs,” Governor Lingle said. “Taiwan and Hawaii also share a common vision and plan to increase renewable and clean energy generation based on indigenous energy resources.”

The current economics of energy production have delayed the financing of a permanent, continuously operating ocean thermal energy conversion plant. But OTEC technology is viewed as promising for tropical island communities that rely heavily on imported fuel.

Hawaii currently relies on imported fossil fuel for about 94 percent of its primary energy – the balance is from renewable resources such as wind, solar and geothermal power.

Ocean thermal energy conversion plants could provide islanders with much-needed power, as well as desalinated water.

Taiwan is even more dependent on imported fuels than Hawaii, with less than one percent of its primary supply derived from indigenous renewable sources.

The Bureau of Energy of Taiwan is working to increase conservation and energy efficiency, and to develop renewable energy so that it accounts for 12 percent of Taiwan’s total installed capacity by 2020.

The ocean temperatures and the subsea terrain make the waters surrounding both Taiwan and Hawaii superior locations for this technology.

This latest agreement with Taiwan complements the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, a partnership between the State of Hawaii and the U.S. Department of Energy which will move the state away from its dependence on fossil fuels and toward a clean energy economy that is intended to be a model for other states and regions.

Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corporation has developed and studied ocean thermal energy conversion technology for over 30 years. Its plans for a 10 megawatt OTEC pilot plant in Hawaii are already underway.

Most OTEC research and development in recent decades has been performed at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority, or NELHA, located at Keahole Point, Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. It has become the world’s foremost laboratory and test facility for OTEC technologies.

Huge pipelines bringing cold, deep ocean water to the surface have enabled the demonstration of a variety of ocean thermal energy conversion components and pilot plants.

The first closed-cycle, at-sea OTEC plant to generate net electricity, was deployed in the waters off the NELHA lab in 1979. It was dubbed Mini-OTEC.

Lockheed Missiles and Space Company was a partner in that effort as well as subsequent research at NELHA.

In May 1993, an open-cycle OTEC plant at NELHA, produced 50,000 watts of electricity during a net power-producing experiment. This broke the record of 40,000 watts set by a Japanese system in 1982.

Today, scientists are developing new, cost-effective, state-of-the-art turbines for open-cycle OTEC systems, yet currently there is no facility in Hawaii producing electricity using OTEC technology.

In January 2008, Governor Lingle announced the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, an unprecedented partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy that aims to have at least 70 percent of Hawaii’s power come from clean energy within one generation ‚Äì by 2030.

Lingle says that as Hawaii is the world’s most isolated archipelago and is also the most oil-dependent state in America, a clean energy future for Hawaii isn’t simply a desire ‚Äì it’s a necessity. in


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