OTEC still in talks with CIG for ocean energy plant

| 01/10/2018 | 26 Comments
OTEC International LLC, Cayman News Service

Artist’s rendition of OTEC platform

(CNS): OTEC International LLC (OTI) has said that it is still in talks with the Cayman Islands Government and CUC about the proposed ocean thermal energy conversion plant which would, if it ever goes ahead, be the first commercial operation of its kind in the world. OTI entered into its first agreement with CUC in 2011 and began moving ahead with an environmental impact assessment in 2014 for a plant off the coast of North Side. In a press release issued after a recent energy conference held in Cayman, the company said they were delighted that the minister responsible for energy, Joey Hew, mentioned the project during his speech at that event.

OTI said that this technology offers a clean and sustainable electricity generation option, ideal for countries with a tropical climate and deep waters, such as the Cayman Islands. Eileen O’Rourke, President of OTI and  its subsidiary, Cayman OTI, said the firm was looking forward to being a part of Cayman’s renewable energy future and continuing its talks with OfReg and CUC to finalise terms for an agreement.

She said the technology would decrease the cost of energy, increase the environmental sustainability of Cayman’s energy sector, increase energy security, as well as contribute to the economic development of the energy industry here.

“We are excited to be the first to commercialise ocean thermal energy conversion technology and to bring it to the Cayman Islands. We continue to be grateful to the Cayman Islands Government for their interest in developing this innovative and forward-thinking sustainable energy option in Cayman,” O’Rourke said.

The US-based company hopes to develop a floating platform off the coast of North Side, which would be the first power plant of its kind. Ocean thermal energy conversion is a technology that coverts solar energy stored in tropical oceans to utility-scale power through a process that exploits the large temperature gradient between the water on the surface and that found at depth. The energy would then be carried to the grid via a buried cable running to a substation onshore.

Although there is some enthusiasm in the energy sector about this alternative and sustainable technology, a lack of support from governments around the world and the major capital investment required means it has not yet delivered on the high hopes. Despite the sustainability, there are still environmental concerns and some people are uneasy about seeing the thermal industrial-like plants disrupting pristine marine views, such as the ones in Cayman.

In its 2017-2017 National Energy Policy government has said that “the development and application of viable alternatives and emerging technologies such as OTEC must be pursued, as these could in the long run become real options”.

However, the policy document does not include any energy generation from this type of technology in its statistics reflecting where Cayman’s power will come from over the next 20 years.

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Category: Business, Energy, Science & Nature, utilities

Comments (26)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    you guys dont get it? cig is not gonna do anything unless the rich/lodge gains from it! period!????

  2. Anonymous says:

    There is an actual commercial solar farm on Cayman right now, CUC haters.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Cayman would be better off creating a government electric company, going to GE and buying 3 or 4 wind turbines that pump out 6 – 7 Mws each and putting them in the north sound and fulfill the energy requirements of the Cayman Islands for a hell of a lot less out of the government coffers and a significant drop in money out of the public coffers but this will never happen because too many people in power have bought into CUC and will not risk losing money so the rest of us will continue to suffer on a monthly basis.

    Cayman in so many ways needs to wake the **** up. So many technologies out there, I see Winston Connolly on Facebook sharing articles of alternate renewable power sources that could work in Cayman that would remove us from those diesel guzzling generators CUC continues to use. That “fuel charge” which is literally half your bill would disappear, the existing staff could be retrained so no jobs are lost but then why disturb a perfectly good cash cow for a select few right?

    Solar house roof tiles
    Solar panels
    Solar roadways
    Solar driveways
    Directed solar farms
    Tidal wave generators
    Coastal shore wave action generators
    Ocean current generators
    Wind turbines (fans and verticals)
    Waste to energy furnaces

    So much cheap, clean, renewable methods of generating power. Easy to maintain, easy to retrain staff but no.. diesel monsters belching out pollution that require ungodly amounts of fuel to be fed to is CUC’s best option.

    The unwritten monopoly needs to be broken, we need energy competition in Grand Cayman

    WAKE UP CAYMAN!!

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    • Anonymous says:

      So few of those that actually work well in Cayman
      Solar tiles, roads, etc. – not yet ready for prime time (high cost, low energy conversion)
      tidal, wave & current generators – our weather is too nice to get much energy out of them reliably (plus cost of course)
      industrial scale solar & wind plants need a lot of room and wind in Cayman has the problem of lots of days of good weather – also aesthetics: welcome to Cayman, we’ll be going to Stingray City, please ignore the giant windmills we’re driving under and enjoy your idyllic Caribbean vacation.

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      • Anonymous says:

        You speak of aesthetics what is the single largest thing visible to cruise visitors and those landing at ORIA?

        Mount Trashmore!

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        • Anonymous says:

          aaah, so you support the waste-mining-to-incinerator-energy proposal then, as this is an energy generation comment thread

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      • Anonymous says:

        Tidal generators may not be ideal but current generators are. Solar tiles on peoples roof tops will still help with electric bills and we have enough roads and drive ways that could be replaced by solar roads all of which can be subsidized by government. Industrial scale solar and wind plants do require a lot of space and we have a lot of space in the eastern areas for the solar farms and the wind turbines don’t have to be anywhere near Stingray City, the north sound is large enough to accommodate them. There are also wind turbines that are vertical columns and not the large 3 blade fans everyone associates them as that takes up a fraction of the space.

        The point @9:29 is trying to make is there are options. We don’t need to rely on the diesel monsters we have now. We could slowly phase them out. There are generators that fit in water pipes so energy could be generated simply by us turning on the water. Solar panels have become super efficient as has storage batteries

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        • Anonymous says:

          yes, household solar is efficient. But not at industrial scale. (There aren’t enough roofs, you loose the economies of scale, etc.) And that’s what we have to talk about when talking about replacing diesel. Throwing out pie-in-the-sky ideas will not get us to solutions.

          Govt. Subsidy for solar roads, etc – Govt. subsidy of CUC profits. Great idea.
          Current Generators – care to show any working examples? (And the current profiles, etc., that make them effective.)
          Wind turbines in the North Sound are stupid. You’re either putting them in the northern section – stingray city to keep it simple – or in the south and airplanes crash into them. They can probably go along the edge of the dropoff along North Side. –

          And yes I love the ‘egg beater’ (verticle) wind turbines but they “typically require twice the swept area and four times the material to generate the same electricity” as traditional (horizontal) style windmills. Though given that Grand Cayman’s winds have already been assessed as too variable (too light and prone to shifting direction in summer) to support commercial wind turbines efficiently we may have to wait for improvements in design of verticle wind turbines before we go there on an industrial scale.

          Water pipe generators – in Cayman the water is pushed through the pipe by good old CUC electricity. (So while waste energy capture/recycling is always good, water pipe generators in Cayman just push the cost back to whatever CUC is using in the first place, creating a circular argument and not hydropower.)

          The point I/11:05 am making is that while there might be suitable alternatives, they aren’t being identified here.

          Suitable Alternative = comparable cost per KWH. I’ll even let you include environmental cost (one of the reasons to import diesel instead of importing coal) if you include environmental costs in calculating the costs of the alternatives.

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    • Anonymous says:

      And don’t forget solar windows. The other problem that has to be tackled is reducing power consumption by installing things like proper building insulation and double-glazing. Right now many people are running their a/c flat out simply to deal with the heat coming in through the walls, roof and windows of their properties – it’s a bit like driving your car down the road with the a/c full on and the windows open. If you can block out at least some of that and at the same time keep the cool air generated by the a/c inside it would make a huge difference.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are so out of touch. GE is in serious trouble itself don’t you know that?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Check out – https://upticknewswire.com/ocean-thermal-energy-corporation-adds-dan-slone-to-advisory-board/

    All very upbeat until you hit the final paragraph isn’t it?

  5. Ron Ebanks says:

    From producing gm mosquitoes to wanting to produce electricity ,shows you that there’s no end to your dreams as long as you know the right ones .

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Yes, I’m sure OTI were delighted to get the shout-out from a minister that hadn’t done his homework. The Makai 100Kw OTEC test plant, commissioned in 2015 in Hawaii cost $5mln…money our gov’t seems comfortable to fart away on a monthly basis. Unfortunately, that’s only 120 homes, and wasn’t built by OTI. If you scale that number up to 6.5MW we’re at $325,000,000 just to pioneer construction and maintenance on something that might supply power for just 7,800 homes. If you look further, OTI haven’t successfully closed any deals, or commissioned anything in their “project pipeline” since this and other chatter began. Has anyone told OTI we’re broke?

    http://www.oteci.com/projects/cayman-islands/

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    • Anonymous says:

      Has anyone told you that the cost to Cayman is zero for this project? The power will sold to CUC at the going rate. This is not a PPP.

      Besides, do you really know what the last two diesel generation expansions cost the customers of CUC, I sure you’re one of them? get back to me when you find out.

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    • Anonymous says:

      3:22pm did you miss the fact that the Hawai’i OTEC plant was built as a TEST plant that was intended to prove the technology concept that this type of thermodynamic system actually in practice could produce usable electricity, and was deliberately not intended to be cost-representative of a full-scale version? Your scaling-up method of estimating the required capital cost, based on what it cost to build that patticular small test model, is therefore inappropriate for this purpose and will produce wildly exaggerated cost estimates.

      But the OTEC technology definitely works – the test plant in Hawai’i is living proof of that fact.

      If you will spend a bit more time learning about the OTEC technology and the theory of the thermodynamic cycle it employs, you will find out that for practical and economic purposes even 6.5 MW is perhaps a little too low – outside of the lower boundary of the economically feasibility scale for this technology to produce electricity at a price-point that makes it competitive with present-day diesel-powered generation costs. Economies of scale are particularly critical success factors in this type of thermodynamic machinery.

      Perhaps the delay in implementation is caused by difficulties in making the $ equations workable at such a relatively low power output level. If 6.5 MW is an artificial maximum imposed by some contractual or regulatory constraint, maybe what’s needed to help this become a practical reality is to increase the designed production output to something significantly higher, like at or better yet above 10 MW.

      Geographically and topographically Cayman is an ideal venue for implementation of a commercial-scaled OTEC plant. But another impediment might be that the company OTEC International LLC is not sufficiently competent and/or capable and/or funded to do this project.

      Meanwhile a floating 10.7 MW OTEC plant is anticipated to become operational in 2020 in Martinique…

      Just sayin’.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    It would be a shame if they interrupted 30+ years of “research” to actually build something.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    sounds good….hopefully it can be kept out of the rich’s hands, thereby benefitting the people of these wonderful islands! and yes, i am a native????????

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Read this part very carefully, “The first commercial operation of its kind in the world,” and ask yourselves why nobody else (including the US government who put a lot of money into OTEC pilot programmes) has taken this supposedly ground-breaking technology onboard.

    Possibly because it’s not commercially viable? Possibly because it doesn’t work?

    CUC originally backed OTEC in favour of solar and/or wind power back in 2007. I obviously can’t prove this but my opinion at the time was they did so knowing OTEC didn’t work but it made a convenient excuse to put the well-tried and tested alternatives on hold.

    I just hope there’s no public money going into this because very bluntly all the evidence to date suggests it’s a dead end.

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    • Anonymous says:

      And diesel isn’t a dead end too? Many people said that solar wouldn’t work here too. Just wait till the oil price goes through the roof like your electricity bills will too. You are obviously reading the wrong papers about this technology and to add, CIG nor CUC are putting a red cent into this apart from a substation. To add, solar might bite the dust here if CUC reduce CORE price and CIG takes away the duty concession. What will we do then? I suggest you buy a ticket to next year’s CTEC, you might just learn what other island states are doing.

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      • Anonymous says:

        9:01 ‘Many people said that solar wouldn’t work here too.’ That’s not true – CUC said solar power wouldn’t work here and their tame lackeys in the halls of powers backed them. If you think back to when OTEC was first proposed in 2007 CUC’s arguments against the alternatives were that the sun didn’t shine at night and the wind didn’t blow 24/7. They quietly ignored the fact that this hadn’t stopped both sources of energy being used throughout the UK and Europe. They also ignored the facts, which still apply, that OTEC was not only unproven but, unlike solar panels, was a complex mechanical system that would inevitably be subject to downtime. It was the same with net metering. CUC’s opposition to this in 2007 included claims that it wasn’t safe and there was no certified equipment available – both completely untrue. And if neither CIG or CUC are putting any money into this where is the money coming from? Are we looking at repeat of OTEC in the Bahamas where the contracts were signed and the contractor then had problems securing the necessary funding for the project. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

        As for your last point. I can tell you exactly what other island states are doing about OTEC – nothing constructive. They’re talking about it, planning for it, begging money from the EU for it, trying to get investors to support it – in short exactly what people have been doing in relation to OTEC for the past 30 years. At the end of the day the only people deriving any benefits from this technology are the people promoting it.

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        • Anonymous says:

          4:12 And CUC are stilling banging that same drum. According to another report, ‘Sacha Tibbetts, vice president of Customer Service and Technology at CUC, described ocean thermal energy conversion as Cayman’s “holy grail” of renewable energy, because unlike other renewables, it allows energy to be generated at all times of the day, every day of the year.’

          That is pretty much word for word what CUC were saying back in 2007 and it was an opinion challenged by, amongst others, Jean-Michel Cousteau who told me quite bluntly that it doesn’t work and there are a plenty of far more realistic options.

          Hate to disillusion Sacha but there’s absolutely no evidence that OTEC can actually do what he claims. In fact it looks to me like he’s just repeating the wording of the OTI press release without offering any additional
          evidence to back it up.

          The one thing I can tell for certain that OTEC will do, and has been doing for the last decade, is allow CUC to place restrictions on all the other proven renewable energy sources on the basis that OTEC ‘Soon come!’

  10. Anonymous says:

    can’t leave CUC out of the mix. Too many high profile familys with too many shares in CUC to cook the golden goose. Or to put it in a way everyone can understand. Someone could come along, and guarantee 10 cents a kilowatt hour energy for ever, no matter how much you use. With 100 percent up time with never a power out tage. And the government would turn them down, because too many families own shares in CUC.

    that is how entrenched CUC is.

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    • Anonymous says:

      More thank likely, you and everyone else on this island, that is a member of a CI pension fund, indirectly owns CUC without even knowing it. The problem is not the high profile families. It’s not like only they can own CUC shares, anyone can own CUC shares as it is a publicly traded company.

      The true problem is that CIG recognizes how much of their pension is heavily invested in CUC, and doing anything to disturb CUC’s profitability, will ultimately cost all pension funds that hold CUC as an equity position on their portfolio.

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