A resort hotel to be built in China plans to use surface heat from the ocean to provide its energy requirements. Called Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion or OTEC, this is technology that uses the difference between warm tropical ocean surface water and colder deep water to generate electricity. The temperature difference powers a turbine attached to a generator by passing warm surface sea water through a heat exchanger where it vaporizes an encapsulated fluid with a low boiling point. That creates steam power.
The resort is to be located in southern China. The technology developer is Lockheed Martin who are working with the Reignwood Group, a multinational Chinese corporation headquartered in Beijing. Reignwood is a diverse company involved in property development, new energy initiatives, aviation, agriculture, healthcare, sports and culture.
The Lockheed Martin plant will generate 10 Megawatts and will be the largest OTEC project yet to be developed. The power is base load unlike solar and wind, meaning it can be generated 24 x 7 without interruption. Lockheed Martin sees the technology as suitable for coastal and island communities where other energy sources are restricted by a lack of infrastructure or ready access.
The plant is considered a pilot project. Lockheed believes they can scale OTEC to power a small city. It has identified as many as 100 sites globally where OTEC would make economic sense. An added benefit, OTEC can be used to process freshwater for drinking and hydrogen for use in fuel cells. In partnership with Reignwood the company has two projects on the go. These will be low-carbon resorts and will help to establish the first net-zero communities.