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Renewable Energy from the OceanA Guide to OTEC$
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William H. Avery and Chih Wu

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780195071993

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195071993.001.0001

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OTEC System Concepts

OTEC System Concepts

(p.73) 3 OTEC System Concepts
Renewable Energy from the Ocean

William H. Avery

Chih Wu

Oxford University Press

Systems engineering is a top-down approach to program management and systems procurement. It optimizes the development process by ensuring that the operational, technical, and cost goals (and limitations) of a total proposed system are understood before development begins. The requirements for the “forest” are determined before the features of the “trees” are specified. It makes a basic assumption that a team endeavor under single-system management will be established with authority to define development goals and assign subsystem programs and funding. It recognizes that each system requires a unique management structure that is based on the qualifications of the people and organizations available for the total endeavor. Systems engineering begins with an authoritative request or requirement for a system that would provide new capabilities or would reduce existing problems in a significant technical activity. After personnel and level of effort for a preliminary assessment of the need are identified, the initial effort then involves these steps: 1. A precise definition is prepared of the specific operational need for which the proposed system must provide a solution. For example, this book addresses the present national need for a new energy system that can provide a practical, timely, cost-effective, and nonpolluting alternative to petroleum-based fuels for transportation. The need arises from three factors: a. The perception that an alternative to dependence on petroleum fuels for transportation must be developed to avoid severe disruption of world economies in the early years of the twenty-first century; b. Evidence that combustion of fossil fuels is causing a significant increase in the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere (if not reduced, this could eventually produce a “greenhouse effect,” leading to large-scale changes in climate and an increase in sea level, with severe economic consequences); and c. The belief that solar energy can be used via OTEC to supply nonpolluting fuel in sufficient quantity, at low enough cost, and in time to become a practical alternative to dwindling or unavailable petroleum supplies. Failure to define the system need with sufficient clarity is a root cause of most system development difficulties.

Keywords:   air conditioning, closed-cycle systems, development goals, energy conversion, fresh-water production, hurricanes, mariculture, ocean temperature distribution, plantship system design alternatives

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