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Online Talk#23: “Ocean Thermal Energy, Art, and Science: Notes from the Field”

Speaker: Aster Hoving (PhD fellow, University of Stavanger)

Saturday, 29 June 2024, 10-11AM JST


At the edge of the sea stands a weathered machine, about the size of a family home. Its red, white, and blue pipes are covered in rust. This Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) facility was constructed by the prefectural government of Okinawa on Kume Island to showcase the possibilities of a kind of energy that can only be generated around the equator, because it requires a stable difference between warm surface water and cold deep-sea water. On Kume Island, electricity is only one part of the story to be told: the cold deep-sea water drawn in through a pipe extending far and deep out into the ocean serves to sustain a complete blue economy. Fish, algae, drinking water, cosmetics—all can be produced safely and sustainably, I am told, from deep-sea water. In this talk, I will share initial impressions and observations from my fieldwork at the OTEC demonstration facility. Furthermore, I will discuss ideas about how to analyze a technical object such as this facility from a critical environmental humanities perspective through an analysis that interrogates the overlaps and contestations between ocean energy, art, and science in Okinawa.

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