São Tomé and Príncipe pilots Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion tech

Image credit: Global OTEC

The Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe has announced a partnership with the UK-based Global OTEC for the deployment of the first commercial floating OTEC platform.

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) technology is based on converting incoming solar radiation into electricity and is continuously available in almost all ocean locations between the tropics.

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The concept of the floating platform is similar to an oil platform, however, the difference is the use of seawater versus drilling the ocean bed.

The project in São Tomé and Príncipe is a public-private partnership between Global OTEC and SIDS DOCK, the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Sustainable Energy and Climate Resilient Organization and is seen as a key way for the region to reduce the dependence on costly fossil fuels and drive the energy transition.

Organic Rankine Cycle is considered as the best way for OTEC to generate power. Image credit: Global OTEC

Prime Minister Bom Jesus noted that the private sector has already invested significant resources in developing the world’s first commercial Floating OTEC Platform, and very shortly, a pre feasibility study will begin.

Dr The Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, said: “São Tomé and Príncipe is one of the most disadvantaged SIDS, with one of the best locations for the development of a floating OTEC platform to provide baseload power.”

“For the first time, we have the opportunity to use the one renewable energy resource that is a major part of life for almost every one of us…

”For Island People, the oceans and the seas are in our DNA, it’s a part of our culture, a major source of food, and it will be that way for generations to come, I believe, and I must have hope, because of actions that we are collectively taking here today,” concluded Mitchell.

Albert Binger, Secretary-General of SIDS DOCK, believes this is a win-win for all parties involved in the project, that is destined to change the lives of island people and to introduce one of the most innovative SIDS-Appropriate Technologies developed by the UK private sector, specifically for Island Nations.

Dan Grech said that Global OTEC’s, “breakthrough floating OTEC plant design stems from focusing efforts on small scale projects. Previous developers have attempted going the route of, ‘too fast, too soon,’ before having an operational grasp of the fundamentals of the cold-water pipe.

“Collaborating with leading riser manufacturers and scientists on the cutting-edge of subsea riser designs, we have a concept that reduces the technological and financial risk in deploying floating OTEC plants. We recognize ten gigawatts (10GW) of installed fossil fuel capacities amongst SIDS DOCK member states that need to be replaced with high-availability, clean, affordable power.

“The SIDS are a springboard for innovation-led OTEC deployments before we go on to address the global practical resource, expected to reach 900 GW by 2050,” he said.

Prof Lars Johanning, Programme Director for Marine-i, says: “This is a really exciting development. [OTEC] therefore represents an unlimited source of baseload electricity for the blue-green economy. As a result, it could provide a major boost to the economies of small island states for generations to come.”

SIDS DOCK and Global OTEC Resources signed an MOU in July 2021, setting out modalities for collaboration for mobilizing resources to further Ocean Energy projects in SIDS, and advance the development of Ocean Energy Policies.

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