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Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) is by far the most balanced means to face the challenge of global warming. OTEC is a true triple threat against global warming. It is the only technology that acts to directly reduce the temperature of the ocean (it was estimated one degree Fahrenheit reduction every twenty years for 10,000 250 MWe plants in 1977), eliminates carbon emissions, and increases carbon dioxide absorption (cooler water absorbs more CO2) at the same time. It generates fuel that is portable and efficient, and electricity for coastal areas when moored offshore. It creates jobs, perhaps millions of them, if it becomes the serious contender for a future multi-trillion-dollar energy economy.
The processes for ocean surface warming are highly nonlinear and involve mass transport, chemical adsorption, radiative heating, conduction, evaporative cooling, re-radiation to the atmosphere and ultimately to space, and localized effects of ocean currents in 3D. 98% of the earth’s CO2 is trapped in the ocean, mostly below 500m depth within the thermocline and in substances lying on the ocean floor. The size of the heat sink represented by the “cold ocean mass” in the tropics needs to be more than roughly 300 times or larger resource than that of the OTEC power generation over a year so that OTEC may become a third order effect.
This approach is enabled by the wide acceptance and use of anhydrous ammonia to replace virtually all fossil fuels. Ammonia is the best possible means to transport hydrogen to all end users, and contains two to three times as much energy per unit volume than hydrogen itself. This paper presents the concept tying together the key elements of OTEC design, engineering cost estimates, deployment strategies, expected environmental and societal advantages, economics, and its impact upon sustainability and continuation of the earth’s ecosystem.