Pollution, global warming and the impending shortage of fossil fuels are all factors that are pushing countries to develop new energy production systems. The thermal energy of oceans offers a sustainable and environmentally friendly solution to our energy problems. However, old habits die hard and the cost of building new infrastructure ($500 million for a power plant) is considered too high.
First conceived of in 1881 by a French physicist, the principle of ocean thermal energy conversion exploits the temperature differential between warm surface water and cold deep ocean water. Warm surface water is pumped into the plant where it is used to heat liquid ammonia, turning it into steam. This steam drives a turbine to produce electricity. The ammonia vapour is then chilled with cold deep ocean water and condensed to liquid form again. The advantage of this closed system is that there is no loss of the resource.