The history of OTEC development is surprisingly long. In 1881, Frenchman, J. D'Arsonval first conceived the idea of OTEC, and in the same year the world's first thermal power generator was made. A couple of years later, in 1883, the world's first steam turbine was constructed by a Swede, De Laval. Since in the 1880s, power generating techniques were in their infancy, and D'Arsonval's idea could not be realized at that time.
Later another Frenchman, G. Claude, attempted to put OTEC to practical use. From 1926 to 1950, various experiments were carried out but ended in failure. The reason for Claude's failure was that he employed an open cycle. At that time techniques for power generation were somewhat primitive.
In 1964, J.H. Anderson and J.H. Anderson Jr. conceived of a new OTEC plant which overcame the weak points of Claude's system and a patent was obtained. This invention of Anderson's attracted considerable attention and created the opportunity for rekindling research concerning OTEC. Later, the first energy crisis in Japan in 1973 provided the motivation for Japan and America to perform fundamental research.
The principle research outcomes which followed are listed in table1. Recently actual OTEC plants have been constructed in rapid succession thus enabling experiments to be performed.
Chronological table of OTEC
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D'Arsonval (France) conceived of OTEC
Claude (France) began research for commercial use
Claude built power generating ship (1200KW)
Anderson's proposal for a power generation in the sea
OTEC research results examined by the board of investigation into new power generation methods (Japan)
Saga University, Japan, commenced research study on OTEC technology-power generation
OTEC research commenced as part of Sunshine project plan (Japan)
ERDA project (USA) commenced
First international OTEC conference (USA)
Saga University succeeded with 1kw of power
Mini-OTEC (USA) succeeded with 50KW of power
Saga University performed experiments on the sea, off Shimane in Japan Sea
Tokyo Electric Power Co., succeeded with 120KW of power on Nauru
Kyushu Electric Power Co. succeeded with 50KW of power at Tokunoshima, off Kagoshima, Japan
Saga University completed 75KW of power plant
Inauguration of Organization of OTEC Study (Japan)
Agency of Science and Technology (Japan) began study of utilization of deep ocean water (DOW) off Toyama in Japan Sea
IOA (international OTEC Association) was organized by Taiwan, USA and Japan)
210KW open cycle system completed in Hawaii
Saga University constructed a new cycle plant
Saga University started on testing new 4.5KW cycle plant (Kalina cycle, Uehara cycle)
Signing of collaboration memorandum with National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), India, on OTEC study
Saga University Completed 30KW multipurpose OTEC Plant in Imari, Saga,Japan
OPOTEC (Organization for the Promotion of the Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion) established in Saga, Japan