SAGA – Venture firm GEC Co. has agreed with the Marshall Islands to conduct a survey for what would be the world’s first commercial power plant to make electricity using temperature differences in seawater.
The Japanese company wants to start power generation using so-called ocean thermal energy conversion technology in 2017 and aims to develop a plant with a capacity of 10,000 kw, GEC officials said.
The plant will use ammonia, which has a low boiling point, to spin its turbines. The ammonia vapor will be condensed using deep seawater and the system will also be capable of producing fresh water.
The company, based Saga Prefecture, signed a letter of intent related to the survey with the island country last July. They are expected to reach an agreement on the plant by March, the officials said.
“The technology has been drawing attention because in island countries near the equator, the winds are weak and not suited for wind power generation, and there is not enough land available to set up solar panels,” said GEC President Haruo Uehara.
The Marshall Islands has around 180 sq. km of land and about 55,000 people.
Uehara said his company is talking with more than 30 other countries near the equator about setting up similar plants, including in Jamaica and Barbados.