Will future societies be powered by energy islands?
- Published: Friday, 08 January 2016 09:33
- Written by University of Portsmouth
With climate change concerns never far away and the continual need to keep the nation powered, it is no surprise that innovative forms of energy are constantly being sought.
One proposed by the University of Portsmouth's Professor Carl Ross would see man-made energy islands anchored in the sea surrounding the UK. The concept would both provide additional power to the country and also additional space to house the growing population.
The structures would tap into the power of the wind, tide and sun, and could be towed far out to sea.
Professor Ross said: “One of the problems we are faced with, especially in smaller overcrowded countries, such as those found in Europe and Asia, is the NIMBY syndrome – that is, the Not In My Back Yard reaction of people.
“People very often complain that using these renewable methods of producing energy takes up valuable land space, is unsightly, and causes noise.
“By putting these three renewable energy producing forms on a floating island, we can avoid all these negative points. Two-thirds of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, so we are not ‘losing’ dry land – in fact, we are colonising the oceans.
“Once this technology is matured, humans can even start living on the floating island to help counter over-population.
“In 2011 the United Nations announced that the global population has reached seven billion and the momentum of a growing population does not show any signs of slowing down.”
Anchoring the islands
Each island would be tethered to the sea bed by giant tubular pillars that would contain vacuum chambers in their bases. The technology is similar to that used to anchor offshore oil rigs.
Each island would support the generation of energy via wind turbines and solar panels on their surface, with tidal turbines attached below the surface to harness the power of the oceans.
The professor believes that the islands can easily be deployed in coastal regions of the UK, including the deepest parts of the North Sea and possibly even parts of the English Channel. He believes that each island could generate enough energy to power 119,500 homes.
Suffice to say, their installation is not without hurdles, not least of which are the £1.7 billion price tag each would come with, but Professor Ross believes that such an outlay could be repaid within 11 years via lower energy bills.