Construction and operation of an Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) facilities will affect marine, terrestrial, and atmospheric environments. The nature and degree of OTEC environmental impacts have been subjects of numerous studies and reports, but in the absence of an operating commercial OTEC plant, empirical data on OTEC environmental effects are lacking. However, several site-specific model studies have attempted to deliniate probable ranges of effects for the irrespective applications of OTEC technology. The proposed 40 MWe OTEC plant at Kahe Point, Oahu, Hawaii has been the focus of much of this work. Environmental documentation attendant upon the development of the Kahe Point OTEC plant provides the most comprehensive summary to date of the potential effects of OTEC plant construction and operation. This report presents a compilation of biological findings of the environmental impact statement prepared for the Ocean Minerals and Energy Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a prelicensing requirement for the Kahe Point 40 MWe OTEC plant. For the most part, emphasis is placed on oceanographic considerations of OTEC deployment, although significant aspects of nearshore impacts are discussed to provide a comprehensive survey of the full range of projected impacts.
The first section provides a summary of pertinent design features of the proposed plant, including standard operating parameters. Next, salient elements of the biological oceanography in the region of the proposed development are summarized. The following sections discuss expected impacts of construction and operation of the plant, and finally, significant aspects of modeling studies conducted in support of the Kahe OTEC plant development are presented.