Makai Starts Up OTEC Plant

Offshore OTEC Diagram_FINALMakai Ocean Engineering has completed the world’s largest operational Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) power plant with a dedication ceremony held on August 21, at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA).

Makai’s OTEC power plant uses the temperature difference between the ocean’s cold deep water and warm surface water to generate clean, renewable electricity. The NELHA-sited plant will generate 100 kilowatts of sustainable, continuous electricity, enough to power 120 Hawaii homes annually.

The breakthrough marks the first true closed-cycle OTEC plant to be connected to a U.S. electrical grid, and represents a major achievement for Hawaii, the United States, and marine renewable energy.

Officials gathered at NELHA to commemorate the occasion by “flipping the switch” to deliver OTEC power for the first time.

“Today marks the launch of the world’s largest operational ocean thermal power plant,” said Hawaii Governor David Ige. “This plant provides a much-needed test bed to commercialize ocean thermal energy conversion technology and bolster innovation, and it serves as a stepping stone to larger plants that will provide meaningful amounts of stable, clean power to Hawaii and other locations in Asia Pacific such as Okinawa in the near future.”

The research and development at the plant was funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) through the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), and the infrastructure was funded by Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC). Accrued electricity revenues from this power plant will sustain further research and development of OTEC technology.

A potential next phase for OTEC development at NELHA is being considered by an international consortium under the recently signed Okinawa-Hawaii clean energy agreement.

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