Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) may be the most promising future electrical energy source for many nations located between 2O"N and 20"s latitudes. Within this band are found the optimum physical conditions for OTEC development. Near-shore and landbased OTEC plant designs are underway for a number of island nations. Several governments in this region have declared OTEC to be the preferred alternative to their existing fossil fueled power plants, the fuel for which is imported at a severe economic penalty. OTEC by-products including fresh water. mariculture and cooling water are also of high interest in these arid, tropical sites. This paper reviews the factors that have lead to the recent interest in OTEC development.