[NetBehaviour] The Mad Genius from the Bottom of the Sea

marc marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Sat May 28 13:05:46 CEST 2005

*The Mad Genius from the Bottom of the Sea *

By Carl Hoffman

Unlimited energy. Fast-growing fruit. Free air-conditioning. John Piña 
Craven says we can have it all by tapping the icy waters of the deep.

Craven's system exploits the dramatic temperature difference between 
ocean water below 3,000 feet - perpetually just above freezing - and the 
much warmer water and air above it. That temperature gap can be 
harnessed to create a nearly unlimited supply of energy. Although the 
scientific concepts behind cold-water energy have been around for 
decades, Craven made them real when he founded the state-funded Natural 
Energy Laboratory of Hawaii in 1974 on Keahole Point, near Kona. Under 
Craven, the lab developed the process of using cold deep-ocean water and 
hot surface water to produce electricity. By the 1980s the Natural 
Energy Lab's demonstration plant was generating net power, the world's 
first through so-called ocean thermal energy conversion.

"The potential of OTEC is great," says Joseph Huang, a senior scientist 
for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and an expert on the 
process. "The oceans are the biggest solar collector on Earth, and 
there's enough energy in them to supply a thousand times the world's 
needs. If you want to depend on nature, the oceans are the only energy 
source big enough to tap."

Stephen Oney, vice president of Ocean Engineering and Energy Systems in 
Honolulu, which will design CHC's Saipan pipes, agrees: "The technology 
is there, and the science is there. It just needs to be improved." Oney, 
who recently inked a deal with the Pentagon to build an OTEC power plant 
for a US naval base on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, 
envisions a day when floating OTEC platforms produce enough hydrogen to 
meet all of the world's energy needs.

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