October 11, 2021: The Honourable Dr. Jorge Bom Jesus, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, announced a partnership with the United Kingdom (UK)-based Global OTEC, for the deployment of the first commercial Floating OTEC Platform. Dr. Bom Jesus made the announcement during the sixth session of the Assembly of SIDS DOCK, held virtually, due to COVID-19 precautions, on 28 September 2021. Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) technology is based on converting incoming solar radiation into electricity, is continuously available in almost all ocean locations between the tropics, and therefore represents an unlimited source of baseload electricity for the blue-green economy. Indeed, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) reside amid the largest area of renewable energy on the planet.
In his opening statement delivered during the Assembly of SIDS DOCK, Prime Minister Bom Jesus also announced that the project in São Tomé and Príncipe is a Public Private Partnership, in the spirit of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway, between Global OTEC and SIDS DOCK, the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Sustainable Energy and Climate Resilient Organization. The Prime Minister noted that the private sector has already invested significant resources in developing the world’s first commercial Floating OTEC Platform, and very shortly, a prefeasibility study, part-funded by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), will begin. The concept of the Floating OTEC Platform is similar to an oil platform, however, the difference is the use of seawater versus drilling the ocean bed.
São Tomé and Príncipe received strong support from the SIDS DOCK Organization, and received public endorsements and support from the SIDS DOCK Heads of Government and State, including the fifth President of the Assembly of SIDS DOCK, Dr. The Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, and the incoming sixth President of the Assembly of SIDS DOCK, The Honourable Rev. Dr. Pohiva Tu‘i‘onetoa, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Tonga. The Grenadian Prime Minister told the Assembly that, “São Tomé and Príncipe is one of the most disadvantaged SIDS, with one of the best locations for the development of a floating OTEC platform to provide baseload power.” Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Tonga, noted that, “São Tomé and Príncipe is the pilot country with almost perfect conditions for testing the technology, and we are looking to raise significant investments for scaling up among the rest of the SIDS.”
This project is a seen as one of the major options São Tomé and Príncipe has to reduce the dependence on costly fossil fuels, which, the Prime Minister of São Tomé and Príncipe noted, “SIDS, plain and simple, can no longer afford. For the first time, we have the opportunity to use the one renewable energy resource that is a major part of life for almost every one of us at this meeting – the Oceans and the Seas. The project is being developed with Global OTEC, and has the potential to contribute to São Tomé and Príncipe energy transition and keeping them on track to graduate out of the least developed country category by December 2024.”For Island People, the oceans and the seas are in our DNA, it’s a part of our culture, a major source of food, and it will be that way for generations to come, I believe, and I must have hope, because of actions that we are collectively taking here, today”.
Albert Binger, Secretary-General of SIDS DOCK, commended Dan Grech, Director, Global OTEC Resources and their partners, noting that together, a special Public-Private-Partnership has been forged that is a win-win for all parties involved in the project that is destined to change the lives of island people and to introduce one of the most innovative SIDS-Appropriate Technologies developed by the UK private sector, specifically for Island Nations. Dan Grech said that Global OTEC’s, “breakthrough floating OTEC plant design stems from focusing efforts on small scale projects. Previous developers have attempted going the route of, ‘too fast, too soon,’ before having an operational grasp of the fundamentals of the cold-water pipe. Collaborating with leading riser manufacturers and scientists on the cutting-edge of subsea riser designs, we have a concept that reduces the technological and financial risk in deploying floating OTEC plants. We recognize ten gigawatts (10 GW) of installed fossil fuel capacities amongst SIDS DOCK member states that needs to be replaced with high-availability, clean, affordable power. The SIDS are a springboard for innovation led OTEC deployments before we go on to address the global practical resource, expected to reach 900 GW by 2050,” he said.
Luiselio Pinto, incoming SIDS DOCK Executive Council member and serving National Coordinator for São Tomé and Príncipe, pointed out that the project is fully in line with the Oceans Programme that the SIDS DOCK assembly agreed to support in 2017. “This is a SIDS initiative, that is called ‘SIDS DOCK Heads of State and Government OTEC Initiative 2023: Bring Dominique Home.’ We call upon others to join us to avoid being left out of the next energy revolution that is coming to SIDS as our fortunes lie in the Oceans, not elsewhere,” he said.
SIDS DOCK and Global OTEC Resources signed an MOU in July 2021, setting out modalities for collaboration for mobilizing resources to further Ocean Energy projects in SIDS, and advance the development of Ocean Energy Policies. A Call to Action has been sounded and the international community is being asked to support the SIDS Ocean Energy Programme. This will include mandating to deploy commercial-scale ocean-based energy technologies that are appropriate to the demands of Small Island Developing States, whether in the form of concessionary development and project finance, or by underwriting project risk where appropriate.
Global OTEC is a United Kingdom (UK)- based company, founded by Dan Grech. In 2015, Dan worked as a marketing manager for a luxury fashion company. One evening, watching a rerun of Frozen Planet, Dan had an epiphany moment that prompted him to leave his job immediately and join the global efforts in reversing the climate crisis. Dan started Global OTEC in 2017, and used his experience in building teams with exceptional people and setting big visions to launch the company. Dan recruited the founding team comprised of former offshore oil and gas engineers and closed several successful funding rounds to date. Global OTEC is now collaborating with small islands on multi-million-dollar low carbon investments to facilitate the wide deployment of OTEC Floating Power Plants across small islands.
SIDS DOCK is a United Nations (UN)-recognised international organisation established in 2015, with all the rights and privileges for addressing climate change, resilience, and energy security in small islands. SIDS DOCK represents 32 small islands and low-lying developing states across the globe, and is so named because it is designed as a “DOCKing station,” to connect the energy sector in SIDS with the global markets for finance and sustainable energy technologies. The organisation’s work is coordinated by the Secretariat, in Belmopan, Belize.