Handling the climate change crisis is the real need of the hour. As the world faces unprecedented extremes of weather and the threat of Antarctic ice caps melting, we simply cannot look away. Founder and Chairman of GVK Group, Dr. GVK Reddy states, “It is high time we start taking better care of our planet, being kinder and more prudent with our limited resources before it is too late. The first step to sustainable practices is clean energy.” One of the latest development in the renewable energy sector that has grabbed quite some attention is Ocean Thermal Energy.
Understanding Ocean Thermal Energy
Ocean thermal energy is harnessed from thermal gradient of the ocean, which is the difference of temperature between the warmer surface and colder deep waters. The technology and the process by which this form of energy is produced is known as Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion or OTEC. It pumps the warmer water through an evaporator containing a working fluid. The vaporized fluid, thus produced, powers a turbine, which generates electricity. It is a clean source of energy, which is continuously available and can be harnessed on a large scale without causing any harm. The USA, Japan, India and several European countries have already dipped their toes into producing ocean thermal energy.
How Can The Maritime Sector Benefit From OTEC?
The maritime sector is one of the largest consumers of energy and with an installation of OTEC,it is actually possible to make ocean thermal energy the primary source of energy, running the ships around the world. It is clean, renewable and non-polluting. Dr.GVK Reddy, the Founder and Chairman of GVK Group states, “Ocean thermal energy could be the future of the maritime industry. It is a resource that is always available and can be utilized constantly to produce great amounts of electricity, thus, reducing the dependence on traditional energy”.
Around 70% of the earth is covered in seas and oceans. When the sunlight hits the surface of the ocean, it increases the water temperature substantially. Deeper waters, on the other hand, are much colder as they do not have an exposure to the sun. During the hotter days, the temperature difference goes up to 25C, sometimes even much higher, especially in tropical areas and in warmer seasons, which makes it excellent for harnessing energy. Thermal gradient, as a source of energy is limitless and readily available, which makes it an excellent alternative to conventional non-renewable energy.
In order to keep a ship running, an immense amount of fuel is utilized, which has severe impacts on the environment, contributing to air pollution, global warming and climate change. By eliminating the use of fossil fuels, these problems areminimized, and can even be eliminated. Thus, when the maritime sector makes a move to OTEC, the industry’s impact on environment is greatly reduced. As long as the plants are constructed keeping in mind the marine life, it is the safest way to harness energy without causing any harm to our environment. Dr. GVK Reddy believes that over the next decade the world has to make the shift to cleaner energy if we want to save the planet.
Water, as a resource is completely free of cost, and as long as there is sunlight, thermal gradient can be used. While there is an initial cost of establishment, ocean thermal energy production is a pretty self-sufficient process once it is set up and running. Other than some basic maintenance costs for the equipment, which applies to every sector, there is not much running cost associated with it. This makes it a much more efficient and cost effective form of energy in the long run. It can help reduce the running costs of ships and revolutionize the entire maritime industry.
Other than energy production, the process of OTEC can also be utilized to desalinate water, and effectively turn seawater into potable water. Optimized use of this technology can quench the water needs of all vessels on sea, and can be a groundbreaking solution to the global water needs.
Ocean thermal energy could be the next big thing in the maritime sector. While the dependence on traditional fuel-based energy is still high, the change is afoot as nations are making foray into green energy. “With time, we can expect OTEC to become the primary source of energy for the maritime sector”, says Dr. GVK Reddy, the Founder and Chairman of GVK Group.
Source: My Nation