Considering all of
the environmental wins that can be derived from the production of ocean thermal
energy using the heat pipe design, there is is only rational reason for not
proceeding to do so and that would be cost.
As it happens,
this design is demonstrably the most inexpensive way to produce renewable
The table at right
is from a MIT masters thesis
by Shylesh Muralidharan. It shows OTEC has highest capacity of all sources
and one of the best levelized capital costs.
Although not shown
in the table, Muralidharan points to a study that shows the deep water condenser
architecture for OTECbrings down the installed capital cost of a 100 MW plant
ship from 4000 $/kw to 2650 $/kw.
He also explains
how the doubling of OTEC plant size leads to a cost/kW reduction of
Using CO2 as the
working fluid allows for OTEC plants of gigawatt capacity or more, so
extrapolating from the study's data a 1 GW plant of the deep water condenser
design would cost $86*2650/4000*78/100*(1-(.22*(200/800))) or 42 $/MWh for the
lowest levelized capital cost of all energy sources but for combined cycle
By a considerable
margin it would be the cheapest of the renewable energies and therefore what a
rapidly warming planet is crying out for.
There is and will
be for centuries to come a global need for the lowest cost carbon-free energy
that limits climate change.