Gail, OTEC isn''t intermittent. It is the largest non-intermittent source of renewable energy we have. Its cost is reduced by moving small volumes of working fluid between a hot and a cold reservoir rather than trying to bring massive amounts of cold water from the deep to the vaporized working fluid. The movement of 25 times as much heat from the surface to the deep, as you get with a heat pipe design, mimics the natural phenomenum of the last fifteen years that saw atmospheric temperatures rise between a half and third slower than they had the previous 50 years. This heat also causes about a half the thermal expansion as it would on the surface, thus half the sea level rise, because the coefficient of expansion at 1000 meters is half what it is at the surface of the tropics.
The International Monetary Fund pointed out a few months ago that when you include the Societal Energy Liabilities the fossil fuel industry is being subsidized to the tune of $1.9 trillion a year or 2.5 percent of global GDP.
By my reckoning, if you invest a universal carbon tax of $20 a ton, $550 billion/year in the production of $500 million/unit 100 MW OTEC plants, you could build about 2,000 the first year.
If the cash flow from the energy those produce, plus carbon taxes was reinvested each year, in new facilities, in about 32 years the entire fleet of 300 thousand OTEC plants the ocean can sustain could be built out and the prospect of runaway global warming, sea level rise and proliferating storms would be a thing of the past..
If you invested the entire $1.9 trillion societal cost, this would of course happen that much sooner. And the revenue those plants would produce, between $5 to $10 trillion/year would pay off a lot of debt.
Since these plants use no fuel, they will generate a lot of revenue over their 60 year life spans, to pay off both debt as well as the needs of government . There are also a lot of workers salaries that will go into the building of these plants.