Lockheed Martin to develop ocean thermal energy power plant

Lockheed Martin is working with Reignwood Group to develop an Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) pilot power plant off the coast of southern China. A memorandum of agreement between the two companies was signed in Beijing.

Following the ceremony, both companies met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during his first official state visit to China.

The 10 MW offshore plant, to be designed by Lockheed Martin, will supply 100 percent of the power needed for a green resort to be built by Reignwood Group. In addition, the agreement could lay the foundation for the development of several additional OTEC power plants ranging in size from 10 to 100 MW, for a potential multi-billion dollar value.

OTEC takes the natural temperature difference found in the ocean in tropical regions and uses it to generate power. This technology is suited to island and coastal communities where energy transportation costs typically make other sources of power expensive. The process provides a native power source to areas, and, like other renewable energy technologies, OTEC plants will be clean, sustainable and powered by free fuel.

Unlike other renewable energy technologies, this power is also baseload, meaning it can be produced consistently 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. A commercial-scale OTEC plant will have the capability to power a small city. The energy can also be used for the cultivation of other crucial resources such as clean drinking water and hydrogen for applications such as electric vehicles.

Once the proposed plant is developed and operational, the two companies plan to use the knowledge gained to improve the design of the additional commercial-scale plants, to be built over the next 10 years. Each 100-MW OTEC facility could produce the same amount of energy in a year as 1.3 million barrels of oil, decrease carbon emissions by half a million tons and provide a domestic energy source that is sustainable, reliable and secure. With oil trading near $100 a barrel, the fuel-savings from one plant could top $130 million per year.

Lockheed Martin was first involved in developing OTEC technology in the 1970s, and was part of a team that built the first successful floating OTEC system to generate net power.

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