4th International OTEC symposium demonstrates OTEC technology readiness and accelerated industry growth
This year’s edition of the annual International Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) Symposium was held last week in the Netherlands and gathered a diverse and international delegation with over 100 guests from 14 different countries, see the picture.
Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), Bluerise and the OTEC Foundation were the proud hosts and organizers of this year’s edition. The Netherlands widely recognized as a global hub for of maritime and water management related technologies and industries, provided a perfect gathering place. Previous editions of the OTEC symposium were held in Hawaii, Korea and Malaysia.
The OTEC symposium offered two days of interactive sessions, and hosted a wide variety of speakers including key players in the OTEC industry, experts in energy markets, NGO’s and finance experts from all over the world. The venue of the first day was the Science Center at TU Delft. This day focused on technology and current projects. The second day was held as an official side event of the Offshore Energy conference at the RAI convention centre in Amsterdam, where the focus was on the market, certification and the road ahead. The photos of the symposium can be found at the OTEC foundation facebook. The video recordings of the symposium will be available shortly.
Symposium day 1
The opening of the OTEC symposium was done by the President of the Executive Board of TU Delft, Professor Tim van der Hagen. He congratulated the sector for the rapid growth in number of OTEC projects and invited the sector to collaborate with TU Delft, having more than 900 energy researchers and over 20,000 students engaged in energy technologies, including OTEC as part of the Ocean Energy Platform at TU Delft. The the chairman of the day, Professor in Energy Systems Kornelis Blok at TU Delft, took over and provided an overview of the global energy system. He demonstrated a case study which showed how a high penetration of wind and solar energy in an island energy mix will increase the overall costs of electricity significantly, specifically due to storage and grid balancing requirements. He explained there is an important role for baseload OTEC power, first of all to be able to reach a 100% renewable energy mix and second, to lower the total cost of electricity, in particular for islands. TU Delft and Bluerise are collaboratively developing energy mix models to be able to calculate the optimal mix for any scenario.
Remi Blokker from Bluerise, one of the technology leaders in the market and co-organizer of the symposium, brought to the attention the economic attractiveness of OTEC considering its stable output, small area footprint, easy grid integration and cost-reduction potential. The latter was demonstrated using a learning curve that will eventually lower the OTEC cost of electricity from its current levels to less than 5 cents/kWh. The advantages of OTEC being a baseload renewable energy with the capacity to be demand-driven (dispatchable) was later in the programme explained by Anne-Marije Zwerver from Bluerise (see picture). She showed that integrating OTEC in an island energy mix provides more reliability, affordability and sustainability.
Professor Ikegami from Saga University in Japan showed that OTEC is currently experiencing a new boom in interest, which he demonstrated by the significant increase in OTEC patents. The first OTEC boom was during the oil crisis in the 70’s and a clear second boom is happening now. In Japan, after a successful demonstration of a 100kW OTEC plant, the current activities focus on developing a semi-commercial 1 MW OTEC plant. There are no technical hurdles anymore and up-scaling makes OTEC more viable. Next step is a 10 MW class semi-commercial offshore OTEC plant.
Dr. Hyeon-Ju Kim, heading the Research Center at Korea Research Institute of Ships & Ocean Engineering (KRISO), explained that Korea is on a similar track as Japan. Having demonstrated OTEC at 20 kW scale in Korea, they are now engineering a 1 MW offshore OTEC plant on an octagonal Sevan type platform. The plan is to transport it to coastal waters Kiribati in 2018.
What followed were presentations by, amongst others, the OTEC developers Technip, Bluerise, DCNS, Arteq Power, Akuo Energy and the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia. After the main programme, we were given a tour at the testing facilities of the renowned water research institute Deltares, where we enjoyed dinner as well.
Symposium day 2
The second day, at the RAI convention centre in Amsterdam, started of with a keynote by Fabien Cousteau, who followed in the footsteps of his grandfarther Jacques Cousteau, a great pioneer of the ocean. Fabien Cousteau talked about his family’s involvement in OTEC, being an environmentally benign ocean energy with huge potential to cover the energy, water and food demand of the planet. He also explained the importance of what he call the “human-ocean connection”. We all have a responsibility to keep the oceans healthy and OTEC could help to realize a sustainable balance.
Desiree Latimer from Bell Pirie Power Corp. illustrated that the Philippines has significantly advanced their Ocean Energy plan, with a concession for a 10MW OTEC plant off the coast of Zambales in place. The Philippines has OTEC included in its energy legislation and aims to have 70 MW of Ocean Energy installed by 2025. A Feed in Tariff is currently being negotiated with the energy regulator.
Martin Brown from Aqualis Offshore, and Laura-Mae Macadré from Bureau Veritas, provided an update on the ongoing certification activities for OTEC. Mr. Brown also highlighted the opportunities stemming from the declining offshore oil markets, with many capable offshore engineers available and idle ships idle which could be used for OTEC applications. Martin Brown is chairing a committee of OTEC experts working on a general guideline document for design and analysis of OTEC projects as part of the International Electrotechnical Commission. Laura-Mae Macadré has been working with different OTEC developers to help with certification of OTEC plant designs.
Panel session on the role of OTEC to achieve 100% renewable energy on islands
The programme of day 2 also consisted of a panel session moderated by Emanuele Taibi from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Panel participants were Kelly Cayocca from Ocean Energy Systems (IEA-OES), Felix Leinemann from the Maritime policy Atlantic, outermost regions and Arctic at the European Commission, Remi Blokker from Bluerise, and Clem Bibo from the FMO Dutch Development Bank. Emanuele Taibi introduced IRENA’s role in mobilizing funding and political will to advance renewable energy deployment in island settings around the world as part of the SIDS Lighthouses Initiative, launched in 2014. IRENA has identified three challenges that formed the foundation for discussion with the panel: missing showcase of a large-scale OTEC plant, financing, and lack of experience with environmental impact. All panelists agreed that one of the most important steps forward is to have a multi-MW OTEC project in the water soon, in order to convince governments and investors, and take away any unanswered questions on the environmental impact. The technology is ready for a 10MW scale OTEC plant to be built and, dependent on the location, can be developed commercially or with help from multilateral climate finance mechanisms, such as the Green Climate Fund under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). OTEC deployment can be accelerated in case islands teamup together, providing synergistic cost benefits and enabling larger OTEC plants to be build.
Symposium wrap-up and follow-up
As organizers we proudly look back at a successful event. The symposium established many warm connections, signaled OTEC technology readiness and demonstrated good progress in market implementation. The industry showed a strong ambition to have a first commercial OTEC plant in the water before 2020. We look forward to collaboratively further accelerate the OTEC roadmap and seeing you all again soon, or at the fifth OTEC Symposium in La Réunion organized by the University of La Léunion in October next year!
For more information about the symposium, feel free to contact us, the organizers, via: email@example.com