Energy Conservation and Increased Energy Efficiency

Our modern global community is confronted with a multitude of challenging environmental problems, and overwhelming consumption of fossil fuel is threatening man and earth's very survival.

It is important to understand that present environmental conditions are the result of long-term abuse and the process of solving problems to return to a sound and healthy environment is going to be difficult. We are currently on a collision course, finding ourselves in a situation where too many people are demanding too many goods and services. As the world's population expands, so does industrial production, creating a higher standard of living for more of our citizens who will then consume even more fossil fuel. The result is escalating damage to the global environment as our precious finite natural resources are depleted.

As individuals we often find that too much of a good thing turns into a bad habit. The same could be said about our thirst for, and our addiction to, fossil fuel. But, let's not be too harsh on the oil producers and those visionaries who designed machines and gadgets that have enhanced our comfort and standard of living. It has only been in recent years that scientists have been able to identify environmental penalties associated with progress. Furthermore, heated debates continue on the extent to which our current situation is man-made or natural. But the recent scientific findings have created a wedge between the progressive industrialist seeking more goods at lower cost, and those who demand a clean and safe environment.

Scientific evidence tends to side with the environmentalists-the facts are on their side and strongly support the critical need to change the way we live. The wisest response is to select a new course of action that allows economic expansion now--without harm to the environment in the future. And beyond fossil fuels, new alarms are being sounded about the depletion of basic resources such as the world's supply of fresh water -critical to support life and improve standards of living --and the supply of fish--one of the global population's major sources of protein. Some marine species face extinction because of over fishing while major underground water tables are in steady decline around the world.

During the next 20 years, experts foresee a need for 1500 gigawatts of additional power simply to meet new demand. This equates to 15,000 power plants that are 100 MW's each and 59 million barrels of oil consumed each day. The World Bank estimates that the developing countries alone will need to spend $100 billion each year for the next 30 years installing new power plants most of which will be in the equatorial zone. These are astronomical figures that could mean enormous quantities of fossil fuel and 2.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere per year. Hence, an urgent need to switch to alternative energy.

What is the answer? Do we build more efficient fossil fuel power plants? Do we retrofit existing plants with energy recovery systems and incorporate greater use of co-generation? Do we design more efficient household appliances and automobiles and should we not be concerned about why do we not see a greater use of renewables?

Of course, we recognize the value of confronting all of these questions. Energy conservation and increased energy efficiency should be aggressively implemented whenever economically feasible. And yes, renewable energy should be encouraged, but traditionally renewables have not been cost effective (the exception has been hydroelectric dams, but now there is concern about building new dams because of the distorted use of rich agricultural land, the misuse of water and the blockage of fish passages).

Renewables have not been cost competitive with conventional power generation because of the availability factor. For example, wind only generates power when the wind blows. Solar collectors only produce electricity when the sun shines and wave energy is not constant. So it is the capacity factor that is so important and why renewables are not very economical or popular. Fossil fuel plants have a high capacity factor.

What is needed is a technology that uses solar energy to generate electricity, produces fresh water in the process, and operates 24 hours per day. We believe that by using advanced technology a more efficient means of harnessing solar energy can be created, allowing the global community to enjoy both its demand for progress and its respect for the environment. Such a concept is moving from vision to reality.

Although there are many alternative sources of energy that show great promise, this site will focus on ocean thermal energy (OTE) also called ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC). OTE takes advantage of the temperature difference between the solar heated surface water and the deep cold bottom water, using the warm surface water as the heat source and the cold bottom water as the heat sink. Ideal operating conditions are plentiful throughout the equatorial zone.

This is an economically efficient means to convert the solar energy in the upper layers of the tropical oceans into low cost electricity, large volumes of desalinated water, and a variety of other valuable by-products. Please explore our site to learn more about OTE, Sea Solar Power, and the exciting ideas we are bringing to the search for alternative energy sources.

OTE is the only alternative energy source that can deliver continuous power 24/7, rain or shine, day and night.


A Quick Look at Some Current Methods of Power Generation

Oil and Natural Gas: Both in relatively short supply. New wells and extraction methods make costs rise for new supplies.

Coal: Less costly than oil but polluting and costly for waste cleanup. Mercury emissions enter the food chain and affect the health of unborn children. (Above three sources release carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, a major cause of global warming.)

Nuclear Power: Radioactive waste creates an environmental hazard for thousands of years. Serious malfunction of a nuclear plant or a terrorist attack could cause a disastrous meltdown.

Hydro/Dams: Environmentally friendly but most available sites already utilized.

Wind Power: Environmentally friendly but resource is intermittent, requiring reliable backup power plants.

Solar Power: Environmentally friendly but needs large areas of unshaded land and only makes power when sun shines. Needs large storage systems for night loads and/or backup power plants on cloudy days and nights.