Oceanic response to widespread Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion




Nickoloff, Anna

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Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) is a form of marine renewable energy that harnesses the temperature gradient between warmer surface waters and cooler deep waters to power a heat engine and produce electricity. OTEC has capacity to produce immense amounts of continuously available, renewable energy, although to date the technology has only been implemented in small-scale, pilot plants. Some have proposed widespread implementation of OTEC technology to contribute to the world’s energy needs. Prior to widespread implementation of OTEC technology, the biological, physical, and chemical implications of such a deployment must be quantified. The technology has many prospective benefits, such as the production of renewable electricity and desalinated water, a temporary cooling of surface waters, and a potential increase in biological production stimulated by the upwelling of cool, nutrient rich waters. Nevertheless, there are negative environmental impacts associated with the technology that must be considered. These impacts potentially include the disruption of large-scale ocean circulation patterns and a significant alteration of surface water properties in zones of OTEC upwelling. This study presents several multicentury simulations of the UVic Earth Systems Climate Model version 2.9 to better understand the projected magnitude and significance of the impacts of widespread OTEC implementation.



Climate Change, Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, Marine Renewable Energy, Climate Change Solutions, Climate Modelling, Ocean, Earth and Ocean Sciences, Science