Saturday, April 17, 2010

Piece by Piece, Lockheed’s OTEC Plant for Hawaii Taking Shape

We choose to remain optimistic about ocean thermal energy conversion as “The Big Breakthrough Technology’ here at Hawaii Energy Options, no matter what the skeptics say. Doing so lets our mind’s eye see the first OTEC plant coming together, and the latest piece is from Owens Corning.

The company is showing off its modern composite technology that it says will be used to construct the large cold-water pipe for Lockheed Martin’s planned pilot OTEC plant, presumably intended for positioning off Oahu’s leeward coast.

The Owens product is called XStrand, a high-strength glass fiber that everyone involved will be able to withstand the subsurface conditions and pressures on the pipe, which is perhaps the biggest technology challenge in the OTEC system. Lockheed’s OTEC program manager Dennis Cooper shares our optimism.

“OTEC could enable Hawaii achieve energy independence within a generation,” says Cooper. “Our independent research and development work to date has shown OTEC to be technically feasible. The next step is to demonstrate it on a commercial scale.”

Such a demonstration would seem to leap-frog the pilot plant phase, but if that’s what Mr. Cooper wants, we say go for it – just as we’ve been saying since this blog’s initial post two years ago.

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