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Renewable Pioneer Makes 50-100% Ac Saving Pledge


A Miami-based pioneer yesterday said he could provide “the most cost effective technology to both cool the Bahamas and provide fresh water”, pledging that it could cut air conditioning costs by between 50-100 per cent.


Marcelo Bezos, managing partner of Thermolentics LLC, told Tribune Business that after developing and operating its deep thermal well cooling technology at the University of Miami’s Medical School, the Bahamas was one nation where there were “opportunities” for it to expand.


Pledging that the firm’s technology could “transform the Bahamas” from both an environmental and energy cost perspective, Mr Bezos said he was driving the “eco-island concept” – where major resorts, real estate developments and properties were completely off the electricity grid.


Mr Bezos said he was prompted to contact Tribune Business after reading a recent article about how the proposed $102.3 million Seawater District Cooling (SDC) plant project, which aims to take care of Baha Mar’s air conditioning needs, had “come alive” again.


That long-standing proposal is being developed by Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation (OTEC), but Mr Bezos – while acknowledging that Thermolentics was “late in the game” – pleaded with the $2.6 billion Cable Beach developer to allow the company to show what it could do.


While there are similarities between the two companies’ projects, OTEC having promised it could slash Baha Mar’s air conditioning costs by 90 per cent, it relies on pipelines to access the deep water necessary to generate the cooling effect.


Thermolentics, on the other hand, accesses deep, cool water by drilling a well in the ocean floor. Revealing that the company could produce a design/build/finance solution, Mr Bezos said its technology would reduce Baha Mar’s costs “by two-thirds” – pegging its solution at $40 million compared to $102.3 million.


“It can be transformative, and can be absolutely transformative for the Bahamas,” he told Tribune Business. “This has huge implications for the Bahamas. As far as the environment is concerned, you’re talking about taking out tonnes of carbon dioxide.”


Mr Bezos said that as the University of Miami’s director of business development and energy management systems, had developed, then operated for the past six years a 15 Mega Watt (MW), 200,000 tonne district cooling facility at its medical school.


Noting that this cooled 2.5 million square feet of research, medical and administrative space, he added that having acquired the necessary intellectual property, Thermolentics was now looking to develop the “state-of-the-art” technology commercially.


“Over the past six years my associate, Ronald Bogue, and I have conducted research and developed a project for the University on the subject of deep thermal well cooling,” Mr Bezos said. 


“It has resulted in the first ever issued construction permit for deep well cooling in the state of Florida.


“Our investors are willing to put up the necessary risk capital in order establish a proof of concept site for them [Baha Mar]. Our integrative technology would not only provide similar ‘free’ cooling, but also provide all the fresh water and storm water needs of the resort with no impact on the ocean as far as brine disposal is concerned.”


In an interview with Tribune Business yesterday, Mr Bezos said the company’s technology had attracted interest from Miami International Airport, the Publix supermarket chain and other Miami-based healthcare providers.


“I’ve done the opportunity to do research,” he said. “We have a lot of firsts under our belt, including the first Class Five exploratory well construction permit. That’s about three miles off the coastline of Miami Beach.


“We have the team, we have the environmental organisations, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), on our side. That’s the reason we were able to receive the permit within 90 days, at the state and federal level. The EPA wants to see this technology work.”


Thermolentics’ technology obtains cool deep sea water by “going straight down into the earth”, and Mr Bezos argued that this had environmental advantages over OTEC’s proposal.


The latter’s reliance on pipelines to access deep water, he suggested, would impact large amounts of coral and involve disturbing a greater area of seabed.


While environmental concerns are understood to be a prime issue that delayed approval of the OTEC project, given the potential impact on Goodman’s Bay, and caused the company to miss its deadline with Baha Mar, it is uncertain whether Thermolentics’ technology would have more or less impact.


“We can do all the same things these guys can do without going out to the ocean,” Mr Bezos argued. “They’re [OTEC] adding a level of complexity that’s not bullet proof. They still have to go several miles out, versus us going 3,500-4,000 feet down.”


Acknowledging that Thermolentics was late to the Baha Mar project, Mr Bezos said: “If we’d known about this a few years ago, we would definitely have been knocking on their door. We’re definitely willing to fly them here to show them what we’ve got.


“I feel like we’ve got a long shot, but give us a chance, a little spot. Let us drill an exploratory well; we’ll plug it up of we don’t get what we need.


It’s one of those things where we’re late in the game, but we’re not too late to prove this is the most cost effective technology to cool the Bahamas and produce fresh water from desalination.”


Mr Bezos added that Thermolentics already had received its risk capital, with investors willing to pump $3 million into an exploratory well.


While not going into detail, he said the company’s technology had the ability to produce “all the fresh potable water you’d want”, and it was looking for other opportunities in the Bahamas besides Baha Mar.


Category/ies:Bahamas News, News.
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