Starting in 2018, the international OTEC community has annually awarded the Uehara Prize to a peer-selected individual who has contributed to the development of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion. The Prize was suggested during the 5th International OTEC Symposium.

The Prize is awarded in memory of Professor Haruo Uehara, known as the “father of Japanese OTEC,” and inventor of the Uehara Cycle. He passed August 11, 2017.


The Ocean Thermal Energy Association is pleased to announce that Dr. Hyeon-Ju Kim of KRISO was awarded the 2021 Uehara Prize at the OTEA General Meeting on February 20, 2022. Dr. Kim has spearheaded OTEC development in Korea, beginning his professional efforts at KRISO in 1995.  He has published 16 books, 45 international papers, 95 domestic papers, and has registered 93 patents. He initiated the first “International OTEC Symposium” in 2013, and completed several OTEC pilot projects, leading to the 1MW barge-mounted test that holds the world record for OTEC power production of 338kW. The Korean OTEC team continues to work towards establishment of an onshore 1MW-scale OTEC facility in Kiribati, through use of the equipment tested on the barge-mounted at-sea experiment in 2019.

Previous Recipients


Dr. Tom Daniel was awarded the 2020 Uehara Prize on January 28, 2021 at the 8th International OTEC Symposium. Among many professional accomplishments, Dr. Daniel served as technical director at the National Energy Laboratory Authority of Hawai’i (NELHA), and also advised Okinawa Prefecture in selecting the site of the intake facilities for the Okinawa Deep Ocean Water Research Center.


Dr. Purnima Jalihal of NIOT was awarded the 2019 Uehara Prize on September 26, 2019 at the 7th International OTEC Symposium in Busan. Although unable to accept in person, she provided pre-recorded remarks to attendees.


Dr. Luis Vega, formerly of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, was presented the first Uehara Prize in 2018 at the 6th International OTEC Symposium on September 26, 2018.

Presentation Ceremony at the Reception of the 6th International OTEC Symposium

Prize Selection

The awardee is selected by the OTEA Award Committee and confirmed by the OTEA Executive Committee from among nominations solicited by the OTEA secretariat. The prize is awarded at the annual International OTEC Symposia or OTEA General Assembly.

As the sponsor of the Uehara Prize, Saga University Employees and related OTEC development partners in Japan are not eligible to receive the prize.

Haruo Uehara

Haruo Uehara was born March 28, 1940 in Nagasaki, Japan. He graduated from Yamaguchi University in 1963 and joined Kyushu University as an Assistant Professor where he also received his Doctorate of Engineering. He joined Saga University in 1996, eventually becoming President in 2002. After retiring from Saga University in 2005, Professor Uehara founded the NPO Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Promotion Organization. He was awarded the “Order of the Sacred Treasure,” a Japanese medal, in 2015.

In 1994, Professor Uehara invented the “Uehara Cycle,” an adaptation of the Kalina Cycle to lessen the load for condensers by extraction of vapor from the turbine.

Memorial Prize

From 2019, Uehara Prize recipients receive a unique memorial along with the award certificate. The “Kiza Raku” is a unique collaboration between Saga, where Professor Uehara taught, and Kumejima, where the Okinawa OTEC Demonstration is located. The bottle is hand-crafted by famous Imari Ceramic-ware artists, and filled with an Okinawan alcohol awamori, distilled by Yoneshima on Kumejima. The alcohol can rest for many years or be enjoyed with ice and/or water.