Monday, 18 April 2011

OTEC

A fascinating article can be found at the Engineer magazine that looks at a potential source of power called Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) - a link to the story is here : http://www.theengineer.co.uk/in-depth/tropical-idea-ocean-thermal-energy-conversion/1008208.article

OTEC works by harnessing the difference in water temperature between the surface and the depths of the ocean to vaporise a liquid, which then powers a turbine. The article is generally very upbeat, suggesting that "more than 300 times the energy we consume is available from the solar energy in the tropical ocean's upper layers" and pointing out that the US Navy is funding development of the technology.

After reading the article, BFTF was pretty much sold on the idea and was thinking - all it needs is more money and it's job done, energy crisis solved!

But what about the other perspective. Maybe there are some issues with the technology? Perhaps it's worth spending a little time looking to see if there are other viewpoints on the technology.

Very much to BFTF's surprise, it turns out that there are a number of serious potential issues with this technology, ranging from the effects of biolfouling to the cost of making large diameter pipes that are perhaps a kilometre long. A good starting point can be found (as is often the case, by searching for OTEC in Wikipedia)

 You may be wondering what this rather fact-deficient post is doing on the blog - well, the reason is to just to give a reminder that we all need to check both sides of the story before taking a view on what the objective reality is - and perhaps it is worth taking the view that the more outlandish the story, the more checking we need to do.


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