OTEC compliments Cayman on renewable future

OTEC International LLC, through its subsidiary Cayman OTI, has lauded the Cayman Islands for the country’s efforts to move toward a more sustainable future.

In September, company representatives attended the Caribbean Transitional Energy Conference in Cayman, which focused on renewable energy.

Eileen O’Rourke, president of OTI and Cayman OTI said, “It is an important time for energy in the Caribbean and we’re excited to be a part of the Cayman Islands’ steps towards sustainability. Conferences such as CTEC provide a platform for not only those who work in the energy industry, but for the people of the Caribbean to talk about a renewable future.”

The event was hosted by the Caribbean Renewable Energy Association, and various speakers mentioned OTI’s efforts in implementing ocean thermal energy conversion technology off the north coast of Grand Cayman.

The technology utilizes the temperature difference between surface seawater and deep seawater found in the waters near Cayman. Ocean thermal energy conversion uses the warm surface seawater to vaporize a working fluid, which turns a turbine that in turn drives a generator to produce electricity. Cooler deep seawater then cools the fluid before the cycle recommences.

At the conference, Infrastructure Minister Joey Hew said, “As an island, we already have the perfect conditions for generating thermal energy from the sea, which is environmentally sustainable and capable of meeting the energy needs of our people.”

The minister also outlined the ambitious targets of the National Energy Policy to have 70 percent of Cayman’s energy to be supplied by renewables by 2037.

“We’d like to congratulate CREA in putting on the CTEC conference again this year and the Cayman government for moving the National Energy Policy forward. We were delighted that Minister Hew included OTI in his update on progress of NEP during his remarks at the event,” Ms. O’Rourke said.

She said Cayman OTI is looking to continue its work with utility regulator OfReg and Caribbean Utilities Company to finalize terms for an agreement that will allow for the installation of the technology in Cayman.

This would decrease the cost of energy, increase the environmental sustainability of Cayman’s energy sector, increase energy security, and contribute to the economic development of the energy industry in the Cayman Islands, she added.

At the event, Sacha Tibbetts, vice president of Customer Service and Technology at CUC, described ocean thermal energy conversion as Cayman’s “holy grail” of renewable energy, because unlike other renewables, it allows energy to be generated at all times of the day, every day of the year.

He noted that the commercial viability is still untested but believes the company is close to overcoming the final obstacles.

In 2016, CUC and Cayman OTI submitted a power purchase agreement for 6.25MW of energy to the then regulator, the Electricity Regulatory Authority, which has since been replaced by OfReg. The agreement is still subject to approval by OfReg. In the long term, a floating power plant connected to a shoreside facility by underwater cables is expected to be able to generate up to 25MW of electricity.

“We are excited to be the first to commercialize ocean thermal energy conversion technology and to bring it to the Cayman Islands. We continue to be grateful to the Cayman Islands government for their interest in developing this innovative and forward-thinking sustainable energy option in Cayman,” Ms. O’Rourke said.