Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he has written to the Governor, the Fono and ASPA leaders concerning the possibility of using an alternative energy resource – that of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) – to meet the territory’s energy needs.
Ocean thermal energy conversion converts solar radiation to electrical power by using the ocean temperature differential at different levels to drive a turbine. A temperature differential of 20˚ C between upper and lower layers of the ocean allows an OTEC system to generate substantial power. The steep temperature gradient required and close access to deep water from land limits the use of OTEC technology mainly in tropical islands like Hawaii and American Samoa.
“If we are able to take advantage of this technology in American Samoa, our people stand to benefit enormously. Because thermal energy from the ocean generates the power in this system, we would no longer be dependent on fossil fuels for our electricity. As a result of this energy independence, we would no longer be subject to the rapidly escalating price of fuel oil and the possible disruption of our fuel supply. This natural, stable energy source would also allow us to be better stewards of our environment,” Faleomavaega said. “In addition to electricity, other benefits of this integrated technology include the possibility of cold-water air-conditioning systems, desalination/fresh water production, and the development of aquaculture applications,” Faleomavaega added.
“I met recently with Mr. John Christmas and Mr. Gerald Koenig of Hannon Armstrong, a company that assists in developing, engineering, and financing OTEC plants. They informed me that the Department of Defense has contracted their company to build two OTEC projects now underway on the islands of Diego Garcia and Kwajalein. Having seen firsthand the OTEC project on the Big Island in Hawaii I have always felt that, if it ever became economically feasible, this technology could be very useful in American Samoa.”
“While there needs to be a thorough review to determine if an OTEC system would be right for us, I do believe this alternative form of energy resource is certainly worth exploring – and the fact that it is being applied in other islands, there is no reason for us not to look into this resource,” Faleomavaega concluded.