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

Past Recipients


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 from among nominations solicited by the OTEA Award Committee and awarded at the annual International OTEC Symposia.

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.