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17 Mar 10. The U.S. Department of Energy recently selected Lockheed Martin to receive two grants totalling $1m to advance the technology commercialization of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC). The grants support the company’s effort to produce an economically viable, utility-scale renewable energy source leveraging the temperature difference of the ocean’s warm surface water and colder water below. Under the first grant, Lockheed Martin will develop a tool to estimate the amount of energy that can be extracted from the ocean’s thermal layers. The geographic information system-based dataset and software tool will be used to identify regions of the world viable for OTEC and seawater-based air conditioning (SWAC). The resulting resource mapping will provide critical information to policy makers, the energy industry and the public about regional OTEC and SWAC feasibility. SWAC, which uses cold seawater located near coastlines to supply air-conditioner coolant, has the potential to significantly reduce electric utility loads during high summer demand periods and is a proven technology currently in use in Hawaii, Bora Bora, Stockholm and Ottawa. Under the second grant, Lockheed Martin will develop estimates of performance and life-cycle costs associated with utility-scale OTEC systems to demonstrate the economic feasibility of such projects. The resulting data will provide justification for pursuing commercialization of OTEC and generate investment interest in this stable, renewable energy source.

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