Progress in Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) has come in fits and starts as societies gained and then lost interest in Renewable Energy. OTEC gained significant political and industrial support after the oil price shocks of the 1970's, but then after funding evaporated in the mid 1980's, work had to be carried on by a smaller group of determined individuals and companies.
This paper presents an overview of internal R&D that SBM has carried out on OTEC during 2011 and 2012. OTEC systems have important similarities to our core Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) business and we have been working to understand possible future applications for OTEC in both the Power and Energy Industries. Some of these new applications for OTEC suggest alternative pathways for implementing the pilot plant that is needed to produce a clear multi-year operational record of a scalable OTEC power block.
In our 2012 OTEC R&D, we have worked to develop a Cold Water Pipe (CWP) design for a 10 MW plant that can be manufactured, transported, installed, and operated with available technology. Analysis of the 4-meter diameter fiberglass reinforced plastic CWP shows manageable stress and angle response to the environment. The CWP system includes a sealed gimbal device at the interface of the ship and CWP. This specialized ship - CWP interface device must be developed to enable the operation of a ship in OTEC service, just as another specialized interface device - the high-pressure fluid swivel - had to be developed to enable operation of a weathervaning ship in FPSO service.