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Energy Islands

The US National Renewal Energy Laboratory estimates that the world’s tropical seas absorb the solar power equivalent of 250 billion barrels of oil per day. OTEC uses warm surface water to vaporize a fluid with a low boiling point, typically ammonia or propane, and pumps cooler water from depths of up to 1000 meters below the surface to re condense the fluid. The movement of the liquid through the system is enough to continually power a turbo-generator. The simplistic nature of the station, which behaves almost like a gigantic internal combustion engine, allows OTEC power plants to be largely self-sufficient. And unlike wind and solar energy, which have a fluctuating output that changes according to the weather and the time of day, the regularity of ocean temperatures and movements provide a far more stable and consistent source of power.

The Energy Island Conceived by Dominic Michaels utilizes solar,wind,hydrofgen and OTEC.The OTEC technology is something of a green dream; not only is it clean and renewable, but so are its by-products. By subjecting the steam to electrolysis, large quantities of hydrogen can be produced, paving the way for cheaper hydrogen fuel cells. And by using an Open-cycle OTEC - where low-pressure containers boil seawater and condense the steam elsewhere after passing it through the turbo-generator – large amounts of fresh water can be created. Energy Island is also packed to the brim with other renewable energy collectors, with wind, wave, current and solar sources providing a total of 73.75 MW.

Michaelis estimates it would take a chain of 4-8 Energy Islands to achieve the production levels of a nuclear power plant. To replace nuclear power entirely, Michaelis estimates a chain of 3708 modules would be required, stretched over a total length of 1928 kilometres, and consuming a total square area of roughly 30 by 30 kilometres. To shoulder the entire global energy consumption, based on 2000 figures, 52 971 Energy Islands would be needed, occupying a total area of 111 x 111 kilometres - described on the Energy Island site as “a pin point in the oceans.” Though the Islands have to be spread out to be effective, their location doesn’t infringe on otherwise usable real estate, as is the case with land power stations, and some bioethanol farms. Michaelis claims that in certain areas, chains of Energy Islands may even help maintain the environment, by combating erosion from the predicted rising sea levels, supporting deep-water ecosystems and aquaculture, and cooling greenhouses.

Energy Island isn’t the first project to portray OTEC as the solution to Earth’s power and pollution woes. Previous plans for the technology, most notablyJohn Craven’s, have been positively utopic. Craven saw OTEC not only as a source of cheap power and water, but also as a method for accelerating crop growth, and, (no utopia would be complete without it), a provider of free air conditioning. Project Windfall, meanwhile, was a plan authored by a Florida group that involved installing an OTEC plant in order to reduce the hurricanes that routinely ravage the east coast.

Let us hope some big industrial groups come forward to implement Energy Island.
Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India