Environmental Aspects of OTEC

OTEC is the most environmentally benign form of generating large amounts of energy:

  • *No fuel needed
  • *No emissions of conventional air pollutants
  • Very low emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases
  • *No solid wastes
  • *Discharge essentially similar to ambient water.
  • *Stable supply- not vulnerable to external factors
  • *Cost is known and fixed from day 1. Essentially no volatility
  • *Public is very receptive to idea

As opposed to fossil fuel plants, an OTEC plant does not emit air pollutants or significant amounts of greenhouse gases. Handling of hazardous substances is limited to the working fluid, and no noxious by-products are generated. OTEC requires drawing seawater from near the surface and the deep ocean and returning it to a depth where minimal environmental impact will occur. The carbon dioxide out-gassing from the proposed closed cycle OTEC plant is negligible, as compared to the approximately 700 grams per kWh amount released by fuel oil plants. Because a closed-cycle OTEC power plant operates as a low-temperature, low pressure Rankine cycle, it poses less hazard to operating personnel than conventional fossil-fuel plants. The potentially detrimental effects of OTEC plants on the environment are much lower than those of other forms of energy generation and can easily be mitigated by proper design.

Environmental impacts of an OTEC plant, as those of any other major project must be accurately and realistically evaluated and discussed with all stakeholders and with the general population. The general public, as well as stakeholders must be fully informed of all aspects of any proposed project.


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