A business which is aiming to bring a new form of renewable energy to tropical resorts has relocated to Cornwall, thanks to support from Marine-i.
Global OTEC Resources employs four people at its base in Newquay. The company is developing an innovative system using Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) designed especially for ‘off-grid’ resorts in the Maldives and Caribbean.
Managing Director Dan Grech says: “We are working with a number of luxury resorts to introduce Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion. Other forms of renewable energy such as wind and solar have not been proven as viable for meeting the energy demand of these resorts. This means that most are currently burning thousands of litres of diesel daily (which has the disadvantage of high carbon emissions as well as volatile costs) so there is strong interest in looking at an alternative form of renewable energy. Our new concept meets their needs. This is an exciting new market opportunity that has not been exploited until now.”
Dan explains: “Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion uses the temperature difference between the hot surface of the ocean and the cooler, deeper layers beneath to create energy—using the temperature gradient that exists in the oceans naturally. For OTEC, since the temperature difference is all-important, we need the biggest vertical temperature gradient we can possibly find (at least 20°C). In practice, that means a place where there is energy demand that has warm surface waters near very deep water where the temperature is consistently as cold as 4°C. The best place to find such a combination is in the tropics.
“This is a renewable offshore resource that is right on the doorstep of tropical island resorts such as those in the Maldives and the Caribbean. As well as serving them with a reliable source of energy, it will enhance the environmental credentials which are increasingly important to their customer base and there is also no visual pollution to the landscape.”
Global OTEC Resources will manufacture, sell and lease bespoke energy systems to luxury tropical hotels and resorts.
Dan Grech says: “Cornwall stands out as the ideal place to relocate our business as it is the jewel in the crown of the UK marine industry.
“There is a superb breadth and depth of marine technology talent in the county and we want to work with this fantastic supply chain. There is also unrivalled expert business and research support available through Marine-i as well as funding support. Grant funding of £140,000 from Marine-i will really help us accelerate our development.
“As well as the range of support from Marine-i, we have also benefitted from the Invest in Cornwall programme, which has provided useful signposting and advice.
“In making our decision to relocate to Cornwall, we also took into account the excellent superfast fibre infrastructure. We will often be working from resorts overseas and so state of the art communications are vital to us.
“For me personally there is the added dimension that Newquay is where I enjoyed surfing holidays as a child and I love the coastal lifestyle. To be able to run a global business venture from here is amazing.
“The next stage is for our team to create a fully costed business model for the project over the next six months.
“Thereafter, we will draw up detailed design plans and finalise agreements with the resort sites with which we currently have Memorandums of Understanding.
“We are expecting to be ready to build our first ocean thermal energy systems at resorts in the Maldives within two years.”
To complement their in-house team, Global OTEC Resources is working with Cornwall-based Richard Argall, who started working on OTEC technology in 2003 for a company in Hawaii called Makai Ocean Engineering. Makai are pioneers in the field and operate the world's largest and only grid-connected OTEC facility.
Matt Hodson, Operations Director at Marine Hub Cornwall, says: “Global OTEC Resources is an example of the new wave of marine technology businesses, now being attracted to Cornwall. The company is dynamic and ambitious, with a clear view of the global market it plans to target. Marine-i is delighted to help Global OTEC Resources move their business to the next stage and exploit worldwide markets.”