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Capturing Ocean Heat

Ocean thermal energy conversion offers a timely renewable alternative.

Fortnightly Magazine - October 2009

areas could curtail U.S. work in this field, which could lead the United States to continue its dependence on energy imports and to lose market share in an emerging industry. Obviously, such a situation could have severe repercussions for long-term national energy and economic security. It would behoove the United States to make progress in the areas of: 1) OTEC technologies; 2) enabling legislation; 3) a consistent and predictable regulatory infrastructure for constructing, operating and interfacing with new and existing energy infrastructures; 4) the financial underpinnings for adequately funding the development, construction and operation of these systems; and 5) ensuring an adequate international legal framework is in place to support the peaceful development and commercialization of OTEC technologies.

If these factors are met, and if the technologies can be demonstrated, then the financial support will become more likely and OTEC can begin delivering on its promise.




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3. The first published reference to the concept of using ocean thermal differences to generate electricity is found in Jules Verne’s “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,” published in 1870.

4. Net power is the amount of power generated after subtracting power needed to run the system.

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10. U.S. Department of Energy, 2008; Press Release: “ DOE Selects Projects for Up to $7.3 Million for R&D Clean Technology Water Power Projects ,” Sept. 18, 2008  (last accessed March 29, 2009).

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