Lockheed Martin Corp. and China’s Reignwood Group will build a plant to generate electricity from differences in ocean temperatures, using technology the U.S. defense company previously worked on in the 1970s.
The 10-megawatt facility powered by ocean thermal energy conversion, or OTEC, may spur use of a technology that has the potential for billions of dollars of projects, Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed said on its website. The plant will produce power for a Chinese resort being built by Reignwood.
“Benefits to generating power with OTEC are immense,” Dan Heller, vice president of new ventures for Lockheed Martin mission systems and training, said in yesterday’s statement. “Constructing a sea-based, multimegawatt pilot OTEC power plant for Reignwood is the final step in making it an economic option to meet growing needs for clean, reliable energy.”
While OTEC systems are able to produce round-the-clock power, clean drinking water and hydrogen for use in electric vehicles, there are no commercial-scale plants in operation.
The agreement with Reignwood may be the foundation to develop OTEC power plants from 10 megawatts to 100 megawatts, Lockheed said in the statement. A commercial-scale plant would have the capability to power a small city, it said.
Lockheed already has tested an OTEC plant that ran for three months and produced 50 kilowatts of electricity. It got $12.5 million from the U.S. Navy to develop a pilot facility.
The company is working with Atlantis Resources Corp., a London-based ocean turbine maker, to build a tidal turbine to install at the Bay of Fundy in Canada.