September 28, 2020

Company providing floating ocean power platform technology to supply renewable energy to Cayman Islands in talks


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How it worksUS Baltimore-based OTEC International is in talks with Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC), Grand Cayman’s electrical provider, to supply renewable energy to the island via Ocean Thermal Energy from a platform at North Side.

The company has already met with the residents of North Side, but has announced they will be hosting an open house meeting next Tuesday 23rd September at the North Side Civic Centre at 7:00pm followed by a 7:30pm presentation and question-and-answer period.

OTEC has the following statements on their website:

“OTEC International LLC (OTI) is triple bottom line driven—compelling, viable business model that protects the environment and benefits humankind. OTI’s innovative technical designs, unique private market perspective, and attractive prices compared to other renewables make it the market leader in ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC).

“In order to be successful, OTI believes:

5-GCI-Offshore-ViewRenewable power must be sold at prices competitive to fossil fuels

Private investors must be offered a fair return

Government subsidies cannot be depended on in order to be competitive

Power plants must be highly stable, reliable and cost effective

Projects must be socially and environmentally responsible

OTI is privately funded by The Abell Foundation and is focused on marketing its technology on a global scale. OTI has executed term sheets with utilities companies for its commercial projects.

“OTEC International seeks to eventually provide up to 25-megawatts (MW) of wholesale renewable electricity to CUC from Floating Power Platforms (FPP) moored on the north side of Grand Cayman Island. CUC generates an average of 70-MW of power each year, with peak demand of 100-MW, entirely from diesel generation.

“The Cayman Islands has documented its storm history with precision, which made it easier for OTEC International to identify locations where FPPs can be securely sited and appropriately designed to survive strong storm conditions.

1-FPPThe first phase of the Cayman project would be the generation of 6.25-MW renewable electricity from an FPP that would be permanently moored less than a mile from shore. At this distance from shore, the plant’s visual impact will be minimal because of the platform’s overall low profile. The power generated would be transported to a substation onshore via cable and connected to the island’s CUC grid.

“GCI Offshore ViewOTEC International and its sponsor, The Abell Foundation, are deeply committed to being a positive partner and responsible steward. A comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be completed before the project can receive all necessary licenses and permits from various governmental authorities. The Preliminary Terms of Reference and the Draft EIA will be shared with the newly-established Environmental Assessment Board and the public so the community can be assured that the floating power platforms run safely with minimal environmental impact while giving the Cayman Islands a more diverse energy portfolio.

“In its mission statement, the Electricity Regulatory Authority says it is “committed to the development of electricity from renewable resources to reduce the dependence of the Cayman Islands on diesel fuel.” OTEC International has begun working with the Cayman Islands community to reduce its dependency on foreign oil; provide reasonable, predictable electricity costs; and become a global leader in renewable energy development.

“What’s Next?

“Once CUC and OTI reach substantial agreement on power purchase and interconnection provisions, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will begin as part of the permitting process with the Environmental Assessment Board (EAB). The public comment period on the project will open once the draft Terms of Reference (TOR) for the EIA is officially released by the Department of Environment. After completion of the 21-day public comment period, the EAB will issue the final TOR for the project, starting the EIA process, which is expected to be completed in approximately four months. Several other government and statutory authorities must approve various permits and licenses, a process that is expected to last into Spring 2015. If all the various steps proceed on schedule, commercial operation of the floating power platform could begin as early as first quarter 2017.”


The OTEC technology has global promise as a renewable energy source, but it has yet to produce commercial power. Its technical feasibility was affirmed more than 30 years ago by the U.S. Department of Energy, but low fossil fuel prices have prevented its commercial application.

Public Comments on the Terms of Reference may be provided through submissions during the open house session, via email to [email protected], posted to Department of Environment, PO Box 10202, Grand Cayman, KY1-1002, or hand delivered to Department of Environment, Environmental Centre, 580 North Sound Road, George Town, Grand Cayman.


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