At least, that’s according to an American research team. What’s particularly interesting is that they’ve factored in the economic impact, so it’s not just a case of “we have the technology, this is how fast we can deploy it” but also “this is how it can work feasibly”.
To quote the CNet article:
the world’s energy could be originated from 50 percent wind, 40 percent solar, 4 percent geothermal, 4 percent hydroelectric, and 2 percent wave and tidal power
Their suggestions read like science fiction, or at least the sort of science fiction imagined by people like me, born in the 1980s. Public transport running on hydrogen fuel cells. Airplanes powered by liquid hydrogen. That this sort of stuff is relatively feasible is still amazing to me and gives me some small hope that we may not blow the planet half to hell before my (as yet unconceived) children grow up. Although, as the article makes clear, it all hinges on the development and deployment of effective long-range energy networks.
Click here for a presentation of parts of the report. The full report is here and here. For more of Candace Lombardi’s work, go here.
A chaffinch map of Scotland: “The work looks deceptively simple, while in fact it is a cleverly multilayered combination of poetry, cartography, ornithology, linguistics, and maybe just a hint of Scottish nationalism”. I love the oddities of the internet.
It is one of those ideas that is so obvious it is difficult to imagine why somebody did not think of it sooner: a floating rig that collects wave, solar, thermal and wind energy.
One of these hexagonally-shaped islands could generate 250 megawatts (enough power for a small city), Michaelis said. Even more power is possible by mooring together several Energy Islands into a small archipelago that could include greenhouses for food, a small harbor for ships and a hotel for tourists.
Although the focus is on using the other technologies to help ocean thermal energy conversion, I think the idea could have plenty of merit even without this. It won’t be cheap, at about $600m per energy island, but it could pay for itself through desalinisation or aquaculture.
It would be important to ensure that such facilities do not interfere with marine life: with so many fish species already threatened, it would be stupid to run the risk of further depopulation (although I confess ignorance of fish stocks in tropical waters). There are also a great many dead zones in world waters, and I would be concerned that the pumping up of so many nutrients could create new ones; I’m sure such possibilities will be dealt with if such projects get funding.
It’s also unclear how far offshore these islands would be: too close, and public opinion will be against populating pretty sea views with technology.