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Lockheed Martin Builds Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Power Plant

Linda Hardesty

Although Lockheed Martin is usually associated with aerospace technologies, the company is working with Beijing-based Reignwood Group to develop an Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) pilot power plant off the coast of southern China.

The two companies signed a memorandum of agreement in Beijing last week. Following the ceremony, both companies met with US Secretary of State John Kerry during his first official state visit to the People’s Republic of China.

The 10 MW offshore plant, to be designed by Lockheed Martin, will be the largest OTEC project developed to date, supplying 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 ocean thermal energy conversion power plants ranging in size from 10 MW 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 create power. The technology is well-suited to island and coastal communities where energy transportation costs typically make other sources of power very expensive. The process provides a native power source to these areas, and, like other renewable energy technologies, OTEC plants will be clean, sustainable and powered by free fuel.

Unlike some renewable energy technologies, this power is base load, 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 also can be used for the cultivation of other crucial resources such as clean drinking water and hydrogen for applications such as electric vehicles.

In addition to several other green energy-related projects across a variety of industries, Reignwood Group is currently developing two large-scale, low-carbon resort communities, with others planned in key locations in China. Using Lockheed Martin’s OTEC technology to power a new resort will help the company to develop its first net-zero community.

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.

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, according to the company.



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