Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Can OTEC Save the Earth and End World Hunger?

That’s a fascinating prospect outlined in a new article in Renewable Energy World.com. Naval architect Christopher Barry goes beyond energy production to examine ocean thermal energy conversion’s (OTEC) potential to sequester carbon, reverse carbon’s effects on global warming and manufacture fertilizers to enhance agriculture.

As Barry notes, this potential isn’t without potential unintended consequences that need to be addressed. But as the price of oil hovers above $140/barrel (the tracker at right may seem obsessive, but it focuses the mind), OTEC deserves all the attention it can get. (Keep $143.67 in mind as you watch the graph; that was the all-time high reached on June 30.)


prh said...

Good article by Dr. Barry. There are designs, Australian, that minimize C02 release by keeping the cold water heat exchanger at considerable depth so the dissolved C02 doesn't come to the surface. Of course, the real bonus of OTEC is to use the C02 to stimulate primary production and utilize this food chain to grow filter feeders (clams, oysters, etc.) as well as bait fish to feed edible fish in production mariculture systems. OTEC has such an exciting "industrial ecology", fresh water, ammonia fuel, carbon sequestration, metal refining, fish and shellfish protein. Go OTEC!

Anonymous said...

What about geothermal energy? whats keeping us from using this? I know that Iceland has been using geothermal for years.

Doug Carlson said...

Re the comment from anonymous, this battle was waged in the 1980s and came down to a standoff between expansion supporters on the one side and rain forest protectors and Hawaiian culture observers on the other. Also, the cost of moving geothermal energy to the other islands with an undersea cable was thought to be too high, but that was back when oil cost $20/barrel or less. I don't know that anyone has explored new initiatives with native Hawaiians that might benefit them and their causes, but the Pele Defense Fund is still around and presumably energized.