East Hawaii News

Largest Ocean Thermal Plan Connects to Grid

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The world’s largest Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion power plant, completed by Makai Ocean Engineering, celebrated its connection to the electrical grid on Friday.

A dedication ceremony took place at the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai’i Authority.

Using temperature differences between the ocean’s cold deep water and warm surface water, Makai’s OTEC power plant is able to generate clean, renewable electricity that is available 24 hours a day and yearlong.

One-hundred kilowatts of sustainable, continuous electricity will be generated by the NELHA-site plant,  enough to power 120 homes in Hawai’i each year.


As the first true closed-cycle OTEC plant connected to United State electrical grid, the breakthrough represents a major achievement for not only the state, but also the country and marine renewable energy.

During the ceremony, 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 Governor 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.”


Funds for the research and development at the plant came from the Office of Naval Research through the Hawai’i Natural Energy Institute. Infrastructure was funded by Naval Facilities Engineering Command.

Money made by the electricity from the plant will help provide funds for further research and development of OTEC technology, which includes the potential of NELHA becoming an international consortium under the Okinawa-Hawai’i clean energy agreement that was recently signed.

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