That may not mean much to most readers, but we’ve been complaining since the early days of this blog that OTEC has been the forgotten resource when editors and other journalists write about Hawaii’s alternatives to oil.
Not to be overly sensitive on the point, but as recently as two days ago, an editorial writer focused only on wave energy when mentioning the recent U.S. Department of Energy’s funding of a National Renewable Marine Energy Center in Hawaii. Here’s what the DOE’s press release said:
OTEC was the meatiest part of that paragraph for several reasons: First, long-time OTEC watchers know the DOE turned its back on the technology more than a decade ago when it ended OTEC funding. For it to be back in the OTEC game is a significant shift. Second, OTEC would be baseload power, unlike just about all the other renewables that get attention, including wave power, so it has greater potential to actually replace oil.
What the Media Have Missed
And third, when combined with Hawaiian Electric Company’s recent statements about the importance of “set-asides” for the ocean energy technologies, it seems obvious to us that OTEC is hotter than it’s been for decades. Robbie Alm’s comments at the August meeting of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association – as yet un-reported by the local media - deserve repeating:
That’s quotable stuff, right? We’re not making too much of this, wouldn’t you agree? One would think these comments and HECO’s overall approach to ocean resources might be picked up by an attentive reporter – but not yet.
The Age of OTEC
It seems obvious to us that signs point to the beginning of the OTEC age in Hawaii – maybe not with an announcement of some kind this quarter (although we can hope), but soon. Contributors Dator and Zapka at least brought the technology to the fore on the editorial page. Now let’s see if working journalists can pick up the signs and recognize that OTEC offers the best hope for Hawaii to get off oil.