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Ocean thermal energy ‘ideal’ solution for Maldives

Researchers studied the feasibility of application in the country.



Conversion of ocean thermal energy is the “ideal” renewable energy solution for the Maldives, researchers have suggested after a study analysing the feasibility of applications in the country.

Global OTEC resources, a renewable energy consultancy company, co-authored a paper titled ‘Assessment of extreme and metocean conditions in the Maldives for OTEC applications’ along with researchers from the University of Exeter, the group said in a press release on Sunday.

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) uses the difference in surface and deep water temperature of the ocean to produce electricity. 

The study was a feasibility assessment of OTEC applications in the Maldives based on the characterization of the meteorological resource and an analysis of extreme weather events. It will be published in the September 2019 Issue of International Journal of Energy Research. An early text of the paper is available online.

The study showed that a suitable temperature differential exists around the marine environment surrounding the Maldives and calculated the stresses on infrastructure from extreme weather events.

It was reportedly carried out using  £ 140,000 from Marine Challenge Fund. The group said the concept design will be furthered with the use of a €250,000 EU grant it had received in the past 12 months. 

Following the study, researchers and oceanographers involved in the project described ocean thermal energy conversion as the “ideal solution” for renewable energy production in the Maldives.

Giovanni Rinaldi, a researcher at the University of Exeter, said the paper will “accelerate the development and deployment” of an OTEC platform in Maldives.

The study will help engineer the correct infrastructure for OTEC in Maldives, he said.

“According to the climate analysis, OTEC is an ideal solution for electricity production from renewable sources in the Maldives. The extreme events investigation, including cyclones, allowed for the production of valuable information for the correct engineering of the infrastructure,” he said. 

Max Campbell, an oceanographer from Global OTEC, said the study has helped to adapt the design to better fit the Maldives. Results have reinforced the group’s belief that Maldives is a prime location for OTEC, Campbell said.

Dr Ibrahim Nashid, chairman of Renewable Energy Maldives, added: “As a nation of islands with the sea covering most of its territory, we are very convinced that the answers to most of our problems lie in the deep sea. As Maldives imports all of its fuel for its energy needs, energy security is important for its economic development. Indigenous energy resources such as OTEC provides security and at the same time protects our environment moving away from fossil fuels.

“This paper convinces us of the viability of OTEC in the Maldives. Given the nature of power generation here currently, we are very certain that the economics would be in our favour too. In many ways, OTEC is the ideal energy solution that can provide base load energy and fresh water through the year in the Maldives.”