Sri Lanka mulls ocean thermal energy option

Nov 13, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka is considering OTEC, or ocean thermal energy conversion, in the eastern deep-water harbour of Trincomalee as part of a renewable energy drive, Minister of Power and Energy Champika Ranawaka said. Trincomalee, a natural harbour with a deep trench, has long been considered a potential site for OTEC but the island’s 30-year ethnic war which ended last year had held up plans to exploit its potential. “We’re trying to promote renewable energy,” he told a forum of exporters organised by the National Chamber of Exporters to discuss the island’s future power plans.

“Trincomalee is one of the best places for OTEC and we’re now exploring its possibilities,” Ranawaka said.

OTEC is an energy technology that converts solar radiation to electric power using the ocean’s natural ‘thermal gradient’ – temperature differences between different layers of water in the sea – to generate power.

Tropical waters close to the equator with narrow continental shelves and steep offshore slopes and relatively smooth sea floors are considered good locations for OTEC.