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Floating OTEC prototype scheduled for year-long trials offshore the Canary Islands, as fabrication phase advances

Seven European partners have started developing an ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) platform. The scaled platform, developed in the framework of the EU-funded PLOTEC project, will be implemented in a test site in the Canary Islands for deployment offshore Spain in the upcoming months.

The newly developed structure will establish floating Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) technologies in harsh weather environments. These environments include hurricanes, typhoons, severe storms, and climate-related events like El Niño.

The structure is formed up of three primary components: a cylindrical hull, a cold-water riser pipe, and a gimbal connecting point. AGRU is fabricating the cold-water riser pipe in Austria, while Hidramar Shipyard in Gran Canaria is building the cylindric hull, the biggest component of the system, with delivery expected in June.

Over its operational period, lasting around 12 months, the platform is set to endure the Atlantic Ocean’s conditions. Global OTEC said that computer simulations and a scaled tank test conducted in London last year confirmed the functionality of the proposed OTEC structure.

The project's conclusions are anticipated to encourage marine engineering design, new substances, and computer modeling, making OTEC technology and materials more accessible for other offshore floating energy and marine equipment. The full-scale OTEC structure is designed as well to be swiftly disconnected during extreme weather events and transferred to a safe harbour until the storm passes.

The project's consortium involves Global OTEC (UK), Cleantech Engineering Limited (UK), WavEC Offshore Renewables (Portugal), The Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands PLOCAN (Spain), Quality Culture (Italy), Agru Kunststofftechnik Gesellschaft m.b.H. (Austria), and the University of Plymouth School of Engineering, Computing, and Mathematics (UK).

"This prototype will present our team with an ideal platform to test our cylindrical hull and gimbal solutions in 20-m equivalent waves and hone our offshore connection and disconnection procedure allowing us to maximise asset lifetime and availability even in storm-prone regions," Sam Johnston, lead engineer at Global OTEC, said.

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