Maui Business

State Celebrates Largest Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Plant

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Image courtesy Makai Ocean Engineering.

Image courtesy Makai Ocean Engineering.

By Maui Now Staff

Makai Ocean Engineering celebrates the completion of the world’s largest operational Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion power plant today, Friday, Aug. 21, at 11 a.m. at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai‘i Authority in Kailua-Kona on Hawai‘i Island.

Makai’s OTEC power plant uses the temperature difference between the ocean’s deep cold water and warm surface water to generate clean, renewable electricity that is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The NELHA-sited plant will generate 100 kW of sustainable, continuous electricity—enough to power 120 Hawai‘i homes annually.

Offshore OTEC Diagram. Image courtesy

Offshore OTEC Diagram. Image courtesy Makai Ocean Engineering.

The breakthrough marks the first true closed-cycle OTEC plant to be connected to a US electrical grid, representing a major achievement for the state, the country and marine renewable energy.


Distinguished officials gathered at NELHA to commemorate the occasion by “flipping the switch” to deliver OTEC power for the first time.


“Today marks the launch of the world’s largest operational ocean thermal power plant,” said Gov. David Ige. “This plant provides a much-needed test bed to commercialize ocean thermal energy conversion technology and bolster innovation, and it serves as a stepping stone to larger plants that will provide meaningful amounts of stable, clean power to Hawai‘i and other locations in Asia Pacific such as Okinawa in the near future.”

The research and development at the plant was funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) through the Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute, and the infrastructure was funded by Naval Facilities Engineering Command.

Revenues from this power plant will sustain further OTEC technology research and development.


A potential next phase for OTEC development at NELHA is being considered by an international consortium under the recently signed Okinawa-Hawai‘i clean energy agreement.

Makai Ocean Engineering Inc. is an innovative ocean technology firm based in Hawai‘i since 1973. Makai’s expertise includes submarine cables, marine pipelines, Seawater Air Conditioning, Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, autonomous underwater vehicles, marine corrosion, and general marine engineering and R&D.

Go online for more information.

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