Typically, thoughts of the Bahamas don’t bring to mind 40°F waters. Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation, however, is spending over $100 million on a complex piping system to transport frigid Atlantic seawater to the region’s upcoming Baha Mar Resort.
The reason - an almost 90 percent reduction in energy for cooling services for the entire 3.5 million square-foot property. Using a closed-loop piping system nearly 15,000 feet long and 55 inches wide, the Resort’s seawater district cooling system – the first of its kind – will use 500 horsepower well-pumps to push chilled waters from 3,600 feet below the open Atlantic Ocean through the complex and back into the island’s aquifer, via 600-foot-deep injection wells.
At a pressure of nearly 100 pounds, the system will move almost 25,000 gallons of seawater per minute, meeting the Resort’s cooling needs with only 10 percent of the energy expenditures as traditional systems. Because the water is drawn from deep within the Atlantic ocean, the seawater does not need to first be passed through chilling plants or cooling towers.
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Installation of the pipeline will be advanced in 1,500 foot sections using underwater remotely operated vehicles. The system must be built to withstand the intense pressures of the ocean depths, as well as the hurricane-force currents that occasionally affect the region.
The Resort itself will be completed in 2014, but the seawater cooling system should be operational up to a year before the opening of the site’s six high-rise hotels, casino, convention center and retail spaces.