When Green Energy is Blue Energy: Power From the Sea
The potential thermal, or heat, energy in the ocean is staggering—every day, the world’s oceans absorb an amount of energy equal to that stored in 250 billion barrels of oil. OTEC also has a long pedigree: first proposed in 1881 by a French scientist, an experimental open-cycle system was built in Cuba in 1930 but was net energy negative—more power had to be put into the system to run it than it produced.
Developments or experiments since then have been more encouraging—with net positive results in the U.S., India, and Japan—but overall, the cost to generate power this way is high on a per-kilowatt basis, and the technology works best in tropical or subtropical regions where the temperature difference between surface and subsurface water is great. Considerable potential is there, but as yet there is no economical solution to unlock it.
We Don’t Know Which or When, But Ocean Power is Coming
Do you remember the early days of music file sharing? Of video recording? Of computers, before Microsoft provided the operating systems for most of them? Whenever there are many competing technologies, it’s difficult to predict which one(s) will dominate, or exactly when they’ll become significant.
But with ocean power being an inexhaustible, completely green energy source, and with well over a dozen distinct, viable schemes for tapping it, you should take it as a given that one day, not only will much of your electricity be green—some of it will be blue.