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China Turns to the Ocean in a New Quest For Power

At recent international Executive Committee meeting of Ocean Energy Systems (OES) in Guangzhou, the Chinese hosts announced their intention to deploy a 200 kW horizontal-axes turbine in the Pacific Ocean (East China Sea).

This project, being developed by Harbin Engineering University, is just one in a series of ocean energy projects that are being deployed along the coast of China with support from national R&D funding programs. It is part of the National Plan for Islands Protection to use marine renewable energy to improve the sustainability of remote islands.

Commenting on the Plan, Mr. José Luis Villate, Chairman of the OES said "Energy from the ocean is perpetual, renewable and carbon free, it is the perfect and obvious source of clean, renewable power for remote communities such as those of the islands off China.  We are both delighted and impressed that the Chinese are looking to exploit this amazing resource”.

The first 100 kW wave energy unit of the 500 kW demonstration project on Dawanshan Island, by Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion, was deployed on April 17.  A 120 kW wave buoy developed by Shandong University has been operational nearly half a year operating off Hailv Island and a 10 kW wave device developed by Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion has been operational for 5 months near the Wanshan Island.

Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) uses the difference in temperature between deep water and surface water to generate power.  It not only provides power but also clean drinking water and food.  OTEC is another key area for development in China and a 15kW pilot plant was tested for 5 months in 2012.

In the Twelfth Five-Year Plan for Development of Marine Economy (2011-2015) the development of marine renewable energy is regarded as one of the key components of the emerging blue economy.  In its support of these projects China is showing a clear political intention to exploit this vast natural resource of 'carbon zero', sustainable energy.

Through Ocean Energy Systems (OES), China is working with 20 other countries in collaborative research, development and demonstration of conversion technologies to harness energy from all forms of ocean renewable resources.  These include tides, waves, currents, temperature gradient and salinity gradient for electricity generation. China has been a member of OES since 2011.

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