Seawater Energy Technology Is Focus of Pilot Project in China


The U.S. defense and aerospace giant, Lockheed Martin, is partnering with a major Chinese company to build a pilot project off the southern Chinese coast that will use temperature differentials between the deep and shallow ocean to generate electricity.

The technology, known as ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), uses the heat from warm surface waters to boil a fluid with a low boiling point, such as ammonia, producing steam to drive turbines. Colder water is then pumped from 2,500 to 3,000 feet under the sea, which condenses the steam into liquid; the liquid can then be boiled again to produce more steam and power.

Lockheed Martin and its Chinese Partner, the Beijing-based Reignwood Group, said their project — the largest OTEC plant ever built — will produce 10 megawatts of power when it opens in 2017, enough to provide electricity for a large, planned resort that Reignwood is building.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.


  1. Minor Comment – when I think of “steam” I think of boiling water. I guess that comes from my early years in college and 4 years in the U.S. Navy. In the case of OTEC ‘steam’ is most likely going to be a low boiling point fluid like ammonia.

    Hope the project works well and it certainly would be fun to work on this technology.

    • Dear Tom,

      Please e-mail me with your areas of technical expertise.

      I have some innovative designs for OTEC I am trying to develop.

      Sincerely Roy Wagner