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OTEC: Ocean Energy Technical Pre-Feasibility Study



Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) are found to be competitive in various markets in coastal and island countries, globally. Amongst the various markets worldwide, the Pacific Island countries are expected to be most promising pertaining to the cost of oil-fired power, the demand for desalinated water, potential of aquaculture and the social benefits of this clean energy technology.  Furthermore, the enormous potential of ocean energy in Nauru is long known as the world’s first OTEC pilot plant was set up in Nauru by the Japanese Tokyo Electric Power company in 1981. It was the highest power OTEC plant ever operational and the first and last to feed power to an operating commercial grid. Due to extreme weather events, this OTEC plant is not operational anymore because of the damage made to the plant pipes.

Since the installation of the OTEC pilot plant in 1981, there have been significant improvements in OTEC technology and design, with side benefits such as the production of large amounts of fresh water. With the very rapid drop-off beyond the reef in Nauru, there is an opportunity for OTEC energy development in the country. Construction techniques have now also improved to become climate-proof. However, the Republic of Nauru lacks technical and financial resources as well as in-country expertise to conduct a pre-feasibility study and assess the potential of OTEC in comparison to other ocean energy possible solutions.

The main contribution of the Republic of Nauru to climate change mitigation is the implementation of its Energy Road Map (NERM) 2014-2020 in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve energy security by reducing reliance on imported fuel.

The specific targets of the NERM by 2020 are:

• 50% of grid electricity supplied from renewable energy sources;

• a 30% improvement in energy efficiency in the residential, commercial and government sectors.

In order to achieve these objectives, as the Republic of Nauru has limited land due to existing, intense phosphate mining, alternative renewable energy options (such as ocean energy) need to be assessed and mapped.

CTCN Support

To collect in-site data and conduct a technical, socio-economic and financial analysis of an OTEC plant project in comparison to other ocean energy potential solutions.

Expected Impact

This pre-feasibility study will collect data and assess the technical, socio-economic and financial potential of different ocean energy technologies (wave, tidal and thermal) aligned with the requirement to fill the template for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) concept note. Because of the absence of water supply in Nauru, the major contribution of usable water is generated using electricity powered reverse osmosis systems and is delivered by diesel powered trucks. OTEC technology could provide very valuable by-products such as freshwater or nutrient rich cold water (improving marine life or aquaculture practices). 


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