Developing a Truly Sustainable EcoVillage – A Residential Caribbean Island Community That Will Prove Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) as a Commercially Viable Opportunity to Supply Affordable, Renewable Energy and Fresh Water for Drinking, Agriculture and Aquaculture
As Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation (OTE), I’ve been driven to inspire sustainable living and awareness for the affordable, proven technology known as Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC).
Governments have known for years that climate change was on its way. And only recently has President Obama announced a set of environmental regulations devised to sharply cut planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s power plants and ultimately transform America’s electricity industry.If we truly care about reducing the damage to our planet caused by fossil fuels and other issues, truly care about millions of people around the world who are desperate for affordable energy, water and food, then we need to do something about it. I believe OTEC is an answer to many of these problems. But until renewable energy technologies like OTEC are proven at the commercial level, Banks and Venture Capital will be hard pressed to make investments in these renewable energy systems that also provide large amounts of water for drinking and food production.
With OTEC, there are many examples of the technology being well studied and proven. OTE’s Vice President and Head of OTEC Programs is Dr Ted Johnson. A few years ago Ted wrote a very good paper describing OTEC as: ‘A Secure Clean Sustainable Energy Source’ (Prior to joining our Company in 2011, Ted was the Director of Alternative Energy Development at Lockheed Martin Corporation). It’s not like OTEC has never produced electricity before, either. An OTEC plant operated at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) throughout the 1990s and proved that OTEC could produce electricity from the sea 24/7/365 days a year – all without the use of fossil fuels.
Today, three sets of OTEC pipelines at NELHA deliver deep-seawater from up to 3000 ft. depth as well as pristine sea surface water. The seawater from these pipes provides something perhaps more important than the fossil-fuel free electricity: the means to produce many basic human necessities that are needed around the world, including water, seafood, fruits, vegetables – to name a few. NELHA currently accommodates 37 companies desalinating the seawater for drinking, fish farms producing sushi grade fish and shellfish as well as those involved in agriculture and biofuel. Water from those OTEC pipes in Hawaii helps companies produce export sales of desalinated water of $23 million and sales of cold water shrimp and prawns of $18 million – two of Hawaii’s largest exports! With an OTEC system installed, just imagine what this could do for emerging and developing nations, desperate for economic development opportunities.
OTEC has great potential and very far-reaching positive consequences for application in terms of the supply of fresh water, food, and energy. OTEC is an opportunity for sustainable development in developing countries already devastated by a lack of water, food, and other basic human necessities. OTEC has been viewed as a viable source of renewable energy. The US Government in 1980 authorized the Secretary of the Department of Energy to “initiate a program to design, construct, and operate well-instrumented ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) facilities of sufficient size to demonstrate the technical feasibility and potential economic feasibility of utilizing the various forms of ocean thermal energy conversion to displace nonrenewable fuels”.
The challenge for my company is to prove OTEC at the commercial level. Until we do that, Venture Capital and Banks are unlikely to support the technology. Loosely translated, this means a slower rollout of OTEC in countries where it could bring relief to millions of people. So, to meet this challenge, I’ve developed a plan and directed my company to build an EcoVillage – a truly sustainable community where OTEC is the only source of electrical power (no fossil fuels allowed!). EcoVillage is a diversity of landscapes and living opportunities and will inspire sustainable living by creating an ecologically focused community: powered by 100% fossil-fuel free electricity, buildings cooled by energy efficient and chemical free systems with onsite water – all produced by an OTEC system. Examples of fish farming and agriculture will be included together with a retail component consisting of an organic/natural restaurant, grocer, pharmacy, health clinic, spa and a 100 room Eco-Hotel. I have identified several potential locations in the Caribbean where we can build EcoVillage. Under the direction of Dr. Ted Johnson, our technical team has designed the EcoVillage OTEC plant based on our many years of practical development of these systems. Site designs are completed. And, we are in advanced discussions with landowners, local governments, and investors.
EcoVillage will be a sustainable, diverse development, balancing the impacts and needs of the environment. It will demonstrate that a commercial-grade OTEC system can meet the energy and water needs of a community. It will help us sell our vision to Banks and Venture Capitalists by proving that OTEC can provide developing countries with sustainable energy and water for drinking, agriculture, and aquaculture.
The threat of a global environmental crisis is upon us. We have to find solutions to live and develop sustainably – in harmony with nature, and to embrace community living and a modern, quality way of life.
By proving that OTEC is a solution that can solve the energy and water needs of emerging and developing nations, maybe then the world (and Venture Capital) will wake up to OTEC.