This special interest group is for professionals to connect and discuss all types of carbon-free power alternatives, including nuclear, renewable, tidal and more.


Renewable Seawater Air Conditioning Technology Gets (Possible) Research Boost

The Energy  Mix's picture
Blog posts, The Energy Mix

The Energy Mix is a Canadian non-profit that promotes community awareness of, engagement in, and action on climate change, energy, and post-carbon solutions. Each week, we scan up to 1,000 news...

  • Member since 2018
  • 716 items added with 810,337 views
  • Nov 18, 2020


New technology that uses seawater to create a renewable alternative to air conditioning has received a boost from a new study led by the International Institute of Applied System Analysis (IIASA)—although the research may have missed the biggest problem with the technology.

Published in the journal Energy Efficiency, the study set out to determine the economic pros, and some of the cons, of seawater air conditioning (SWAC), a renewable technology that could hold promise as an alternative to the standard, emissions-heavy air conditioners that hum in their millions around the world, reports Inhabitat.

“The study looks at the possibility of pumping deep seawater from 700 to 1,200 metres deep at the temperature of 3° to 5°C to the coast, where it exchanges heat within a cooling system,” Inhabitat explains. It found that “just one cubic metre of seawater could provide cooling energy equivalent to that provided by 21 wind turbines.”

While building SWAC systems “would require heavy initial investments,” the IIASA researchers said operating costs would be lower than conventional systems, delivering savings as high as 77% in some coastal jurisdictions and islands.

In one version of the SWAC approach defined as “high-velocity,” cooling loads can be expanded “modularly through smaller additional capital costs” once the main system is in place, said lead author Julian Hunt. If it ever becomes commercially available, the technology could be a particular boon to big power users such as data centres, airports, hotels, and resorts.

But that availability is still some ways away. The researchers acknowledged risks in the technology that have yet to be addressed, including the need to pump the incoming warm water deep enough to prevent algae blooms, and for the systems “to be handled and monitored carefully to preserve marine life and not disrupt the ecosystems.”

The study also seems not to have addressed the issue of thermal pollution, at a time when additional warming is the very last thing anyone should be considering for the world’s oceans. In 2014, after looking into SWAC and similar systems using lake water, the Institute of Earth Sciences at Hebrew University of Jerusalem flagged ocean heating as a concern that had not yet been explored in depth. [Or at depth. Because, y’know, we’ll never turn down a terrible pun—Ed.]

Read More


No discussions yet. Start a discussion below.

The Energy  Mix's picture
Thank The Energy for the Post!
Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.
More posts from this member

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network® is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »