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Wednesday, August 01, 2001



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Ocean thermal conversion plant in Tuticorin

M. Somasekhar


ISLAND nations -- Mauritius, Seychelles and Maldives -- have sought India's expertise in the setting up of ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) plants.

The Secretary, Union Department of Ocean Development (DoD), Dr. Harsh K. Gupta, said these countries have been sensitised to India's efforts at setting up a 1 MW plant close to the Tuticorin harbour in Tamil Nadu.

The Tuticorin plant being executed by the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), Chennai, a constituent of the DoD will convert the thermal energy in the oceans into electricity by exploiting the temperature difference between the warm surface wa ter (28 degrees C) and cold deep-sea water (6 degrees C) at 1000 metre depth.

Dr Gupta told Business Line that the 1-MW plant is a technology demonstrator. Once demonstrated, OTEC plants will be replicated in Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep islands in a phased manner.

The DoD, which is the main funding department of the project, now part of the 16 `Jai Vigyan' mission projects, could also lead to the setting up of larger plants with 25 MW capacity. These OTEC plants have the potential of providing pollution-free renew able energy at a cost comparable to other fossil-fueled plants.

While the NIOT is the implementing organisation, the National Ship Design and Research Centre, Visakhapatnam is an active participant. The Tuticorin Port Trust, Navy and Coast Guard along with the Dempo Shipyard, Goa and Turbotech, Bangalore are supporti ng in infrastructure and manufacture of sub-systems for the plant.

The Dempo Shipyard has already constructed the plant barge weighing approximately 500 tonnes. The barge named `Sagar Shakthi' by the DoD will contain all the assembly of the OTEC plant. A one-km long, 1 metre diameter HDPE pipe, which will bring cold sea water to the plant barge is also ready. It will be integrated with the OTEC plant barge soon. Once, this connection is established the plant will be ready for demonstration.

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