How can island states prepare for the 21st century?
There are basically two sources of power to generate electrical power on the plant earth.
1) power sources where others OWN the fuel. (oil, nuclear, coal and hydro (meaning water rights)
2) free fuel. Fuel that no one can own. (solar, OTEC, wind and geothermal (geothermal may not be free if one does not own the land where it is found)
All fuels do have a cost though. The cost of acquiring it! These costs are mining, drilling, dams, procurement of land, manufacturing equipment components, insurance and finance costs and environmental and disaster costs. When all these costs are added up one can calculate the true cost per kilowatt hour of electricity. To be energy independent, one needs to own or have access to one of the two energy sources. Yes all the island states could form a co-op to help in bulk fuel procurement to help in price control of diesel but they will not be able to keep prices down in the long term or even near term. If there was a diesel fuel shortage in the world who do you think will get it? Not island states!
By the nature of island states, everything needs to be imported and this adds more cost to about everything needed on islands. There is a bright light at the end of the tunnel for islands located in the solar heated waters of the world though. If these islands are blest with geothermal or fossil fuels or deep oceans within practical distance or islands of big enough size, there exists today the technology to provide them with affordable and sustainable electrical power. Where world events (war, political or geological) can not effect ones energy. Fossil fuels however are not renewable and geothermal sources can be cut off with earthquakes and land movements. Solar voltaic cells and wind can only provide power when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. OTEC is the only power source that is renewable, non polluting and is unlimited in supply and works 24/7. OTEC can also provide clean potable fresh drinking water too. No other energy source can do that economically while still providing electrical generation. OTEC is also the only energy source that can maintain a fairly constant level of cost. Meaning no one can make the costs go up!
But not all OTEC's are the same. Mist Lift OTEC is the cheapest to produce and maintain. Wind power is a good approach for "supplemental power" as long as you have a good "base load" generation installed. Wind turbines are not going to be able to supply the 24/7 hour power needed on islands though. I understand that we are going to have to switch over our economy to another source other than oil too. Hydrogen is the most plentiful source on the planet and it is the future of all mankind. The problem is that it takes electricity to produce it and building more coal and natural gas power plants to make the electricity needed is the wrong way to go. We will be polluting the earth in the process. If you take a look at what India and China are doing with their power needs, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the earth is in trouble, even with wind power. However, there is a way out of all of this! ... OTEC! At the present, they are very costly with the present approach. There is one, though, that shows great promise and it is considerably cheaper and simpler. Plus it can be done on small or large scale too. It like any other idea needs funding to get it off the ground. I have been talking to the inventor of MIST LIFT OTEC. Mr. Stuart L. Ridgway who did the first test of this concept back in the early 80's. He proved that it works! All That is needed is for a larger experimental test and the money to fund it. Don't roll your eyes back in your head yet. The test will not break the bank. According to Mr. Ridgway, the first test cost less than 2 million back in the 80's and he said that it would not take much more than that now. Once that testing is done, a small pilot plant could be installed here on Saipan or any other island in the warm tropical waters. The neat thing about Mist Lift OTEC is ... It is simple in operation. It does not need huge or expensive heat exchangers or any large circulating pumps. It is capable of producing electricity with and ENDLESS and FREE fuel supply. The major cost of Mist Lift OTEC is not the machinery or the science but the engineering to withstand natures forces. That is my area of work. But we need to prove the concept before we can design and build it.
Just google "Mist Lift OTEC" for more detailed information.
On our island we are seeing electrical coats of $0.40 kw/hr and it is destroying our whole economy. If you are seeing the same thing happening on your island then let us band together and solve this problem.
Brian Horst, PE
Electrical Power Options For Island States
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this letter are those of Brian Horst and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solomon Times Online.
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