Energy islands

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.

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