Ocean Thermal Energy

Ocean thermal energy is the heat energy in seawater. Differences in heat energy between different bodies of water can occur through temperature profiles in the water column or through heat introduced from submarine volcanic (i.e., geothermal) activity. Both sources are being investigated for future development.

26.3.4.1 Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC)

OTEC is a process or technology, which uses temperature differences between surface seawater and deep (>1,000 m) seawater to drive heat exchange processes (Ni-hous 2009). In most oceans or seas there is a marked drop in temperature between the surface and deeper water. This difference is most marked in tropical regions (between the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer), where surface temperatures can be up to 20°C higher than underlying waters.

Ocean thermal anomalies occur on a (Fig. 26.4) seasonal basis but there is increasing evidence of decadal anomalies in most oceans (Alves et al. 2010). Whilst the seasonal variations are reasonably forecastable, longer-term variability is presently not fully understood, so forecasting is more uncertain.

26.3.4.2 Submarine Geothermal Energy

In the 1980s 'black smokers' were discovered at mid-ocean ridges in the Atlantic Ocean. Black smokers are submarine geothermal systems, circulating seawater through hot, fractured volcanic rock, which is being formed and exposed at these mid-ocean ridges, where the earth's ocean floors are expanding (Nihous 2010; also

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Large Scale Distribution of

OTEC Thermal Resources

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