The US Navy has awarded a contract to Lockheed Martin to encourage the development of ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) technology.

The OTEC is a hydro energy conversion system that uses temperature difference between warmer water at the ocean’s surface and colder water below to produce renewable and reliable power.

Under the $8.12m contract, the company will develop critical OTEC system components and further step-up its design for a large-scale utility OTEC pilot plant by developing an interface between the system’s cold water pipe and the platform.

Lockheed Martin new ventures vice president Rich Lockwood said the contract was an opportunity to further demonstrate the feasibility of generating electricity from the ocean in an environmentally beneficial way.

In the 1970s, Lockheed Martin developed a prototype mini-OTEC, which was successfully used to generate power in excess of what was required for self-sustainment.