An Assessment of Global Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Resources under Broad Geographical Constraints

Krishnakumar Rajagopalan
University of Hawaii, United States

Keywords: OTEC, Ocean General Circulation Model

Rates of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) are assessed with a high-resolution (1° x 1°) ocean general circulation model. In numerically intensive simulations, the OTEC process is represented by a pair of sinks and a source of specified strengths placed at representative water depths in selected favorable oceanic regions. Although results from global OTEC scenarios have been recently presented elsewhere, the present focus is to impose broad geographical restrictions on the OTEC domain defined in the simulations. This may correspond to practical or legal limitations, such as the cost of long submarine power cables or the extent of Exclusive Economic Zones. Because some environmental effects predicted under very large-scale OTEC scenarios exhibit a strong asymmetry among major oceanic basins, numerical experiments where OTEC implementation is constrained to such specific areas are also conducted. Results suggest that overall geographical constraints simply defined by distance to shore, given the model’s 1° horizontal resolution, produce nearly the same global OTEC net power maximum. In such cases, OTEC net power density approximately increases in inverse proportion to the OTEC implementation area. Limiting OTEC development to the Indo-Pacific produces results that follow the previous trend, but simulations restricted to the Atlantic seem quite different.

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