Oman has the potential to harness the ocean’s inexhaustible thermal energy for power generation and district cooling, among other commercial applications, according to an international expert specialising in the use of this renewable resource.
Berend Jan Kleute (pictured), Co-Founder of Bluerise — a Dutch-based company known for its pioneering Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) technology — said the capital region,
Muscat, among other coastal towns and shore-based installations, are located in the relative proximity of cold deep-ocean water that can be tapped as a cost-competitive and sustainable energy source.
Presenting on the second day of the Ocean Economy and Future Technology Conference, that concluded at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre yesterday, Kleute said Ocean Thermal Energy has promising potential for development in the Sultanate as part of its broader transition towards renewable and alternative energy resources.
The technology, he explained, harnesses the sun’s energy absorbed by the ocean to produce electricity. “There is a temperature difference in the ocean: the upper layers always remain warm, while the deeper layers are always cold.
We have developed a technology to make use of the temperature difference to generate power, and at the same time, use the cold deep-ocean water to cool buildings, which can result in a 10-fold saving in the energy bill for cooling.”
Working in collaboration with Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, Bluerise says it has come up with high-efficiency technology that harnesses the roughly 20 degree Centigrade temperature difference between the surface temperature (averaging around 24 degrees C) and water levels at depths of 1,000 metres, where the temperature ranges between 4-6 degrees C.
OTEC technology typically uses a fluid with a low boiling point, such as ammonia, that vaporises at surface temperatures. The vapour expands and spins a turbine
connected to a generator to produce power. The vapour is then cooled by seawater pumped from the deeper part of the ocean. It condenses into a liquid and thus can be reused as part of a continuous process.
According to Kleute, cold deep-ocean zones found along Oman’s shores offer opportunities for power generation and the cooling of buildings based on the use of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion technology. Muscat lies in the vicinity of these deep-water hotspots, as do other coastal locations where there is a lot of cooling demand along the shore.
Additionally, nutrient-rich deep-ocean water can also be used to support fisheries and aquaculture where the “fish grows in a more natural way”, said Berend.
“Algae, in particular, can also grow very nicely in this weather based on sunny conditions combined with nutrients from deep-ocean water.”
Besides, cold deep-ocean water can also be used to produce potable water by capturing moisture from Oman’s hot and humid atmosphere through the condensation process, he noted, adding that Bluerise is keen to “expand into Oman and explore opportunities” here.