The partners of the PLOTEC project, a pan-European consortium with the primary goal of designing a robust OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion) platform capable of withstanding extreme weather conditions in tropical oceans and demonstrating its economic viability, gathered in Bad Hall, Austria, to review the first year of progress in creating an Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion System (OTEC).
The OTEC system operates by harnessing the temperature difference between surface and deep ocean waters. It utilizes heat from the surface water to evaporate a working fluid with a low boiling point, such as ammonia, for example. This generated vapor drives a turbine connected to a generator, producing electricity. Subsequently, cold water from the depths is used to condense the vapor, thus completing the cycle. This process is sustained continuously through heat exchange between the warm and cold water layers, enabling the constant generation of electrical energy.
The meeting, held at AGRU facilities, brought together experts from seven European countries, including PLOCAN, to discuss achievements, coordinate future tasks, and plan the way forward. Its aim was to demonstrate the economic viability of the OTEC platform, a fundamental milestone to overcome technical and economic challenges that might limit the global widespread implementation of OTEC technology.
The meeting hosts, manufacturers of the pipe simulating the cold water riser in the prototype to be tested at PLOCAN, offered a technical tour of their facilities to the participants. This gathering allowed PLOCAN, alongside other partners, to coordinate the tests scheduled for their testing facility in 2024. These tests will focus on validating the technical advancements achieved so far and charting the path towards the effective development of this technology.
Among other matters, preliminary designs of the structure’s hull addressing engineering challenges and cost reduction, calculations of pipe properties, and strategies for pipe installation and coupling to the structure’s hull were presented during the meeting. The opportunity was seized to discuss challenges encountered in the project’s development and the adopted solutions. Progress regarding studies on the project’s socio-environmental impacts and the impacts of the project’s outreach actions were also showcased.
Advancements achieved in offshore design, material improvements, and computational modeling will not only drive sustainable energy generation but also find transferable applications in other marine industries.
The PLOTEC project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe program and the United Kingdom’s research and innovation program (UKRI), with a total investment of 3.5 million euros. This project will demonstrate European leadership in sustainable and efficient energy solutions, laying the groundwork for future collaborations and developments in the marine energy industry. PLOTEC aims to overcome technical and economic challenges to bring OTEC technology to small developing island states and EU overseas territories in tropical zones, offering an alternative of sustainable and economical energy.
Project name: PLOCAN Tested Optimised Floating Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Platform
Project acronym: PLOTEC