Over at The Oil Drum, Rick Dworsky has an extremely intriguing post up on Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion:
… the Earth has an enormous natural solar collector – the tropical oceans. … If we can tap into this renewable source, considering thermodynamics and entropy, approximately 1% of it could provide the entire current worldwide demand for energy. More than enough energy is available, we only need a way to get it – in a practical, cost effective, ecologically safe and sustainable way.
Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) is a technology that can extract useful work from solar energy stored in the sea. Since the sea IS the energy storage medium, OTEC offers ‘always on’ baseline supply — during bright clear days and dark nights, in still air and ferocious wind storms — without the expense and complications of artificial energy storage systems.
Apparently this stuff is farther along than you might think. Check it out.