PLOTEC: PLOCAN Tested Optimised Floating Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Platform

The objective of the project is to design and simulate an OTEC platform capable of withstanding the extreme weather effects of tropical oceans

Project budget: € 3.5m (€ 75k at University of Plymouth)
Project duration: 1st November 2022 – 30th April 2025
Financing authorities: Horizon Europe and UKRI
Principal Investigator at Plymouth: Dr Maozhou Meng 
The overall objective of the project is to design and simulate an OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion) platform capable of withstanding the extreme weather effects of tropical oceans, with a viable cost model, validated by a scaled demonstration of a structure. By doing so, key technical and economic barriers to mass OTEC deployment can be overcome. These developments in offshore design, improved materials and computational modelling may also be transferable to other offshore industries where affordable, reliable power is required, such as green ammonia production or aquaculture. The consortium will undertake a series of computer simulations concluding with a physical deployment at the PLOCAN test facility in Gran Canaria in 2024.
PLOTEC is funded by the EU's key funding programme for research and innovation, Horizon Europe, and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) in the amount of € 3.5 million. The project will demonstrate pan-European leadership in sustainable, and competitive energy solutions, through the novel utilisation of materials, new designs for OTEC, and advanced modelling technologies demonstrating efficiency gains through a drop in Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE). The project will also engage with SIDS leaders and policy-makers to set foundations for future capacity-building.
OTEC technology
OTEC harnesses the power of the ocean to provide a continuous, cost-effective supply of clean energy. It possesses significant environmental advantages over fossil fuels and nuclear power; requires less land than renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind, biomass and hydroelectric power; and has the potential to produce far more useful and affordable energy than could be generated from other renewable sources.

How does it work?

1. The barge draws in warm surface seawater (of around 26°C) which has been heated by the sun’s rays.
2. This warm water is used to evaporate a working fluid with a low boiling point.
3. This produces a vapour which spins a turbine to produce electricity using a generator.
4. At the same time, cold deep water (of around 4°C) is drawn up through a pipe from the depths of the ocean.
5. The cold water cools the vapour, turning it back into a liquid which can then be immediately reused.
6. The cycle runs continuously whilst the power generated is transmitted to the grid using a sub-sea cable.