Could Artificial ‘Power Islands’ Solve The Energy Crisis? One Researcher Plans To Find Out

Power islands

One researcher from Portsmouth University in England claims that man-made artificial “power islands” could solve the world’s energy crisis if they were implemented properly. By creating an artificial archipelago of power islands, energy could be secured from wind, tides, and the sun all in one place. These “power islands” could produce power for millions and cut back on complaints associated with regular power plants.

The Daily Mail reports that Carl Ross, a professor at Portsmouth University in England, has come up with a solution to the world’s energy crisis, and it comes in the form of man-made islands. Ross suggests the energy woes could be combated by creating a series of artificial islands designed to harvest wind, solar, and tidal power all in one convenient location.

For those concerned about the potential environmental hazard of creating a man-made island in a new location, Ross says that these islands would be floating islands that could potentially be moved as needed. He notes that the islands would be similar in nature to offshore drilling rigs, only they would feature wind, solar, and tidal power instead.

“They would support wind turbines and solar panels on their upper surface, while underneath tidal turbines harness the power of ocean currents.”

Ross claims that just 200 of these floating islands could source enough power for the entire United Kingdom. He claims that it would end problems such as noise complaints or visual complaints by those living near current wind or solar plants.

“People often complain that renewable energy takes up valuable land, is unsightly, and causes noise. By putting three renewable energy systems on a floating island, we can avoid all these negative points.”

It was also noted that the units would be relatively easy to deploy. Initially, Ross says the opening of the English Channel off the west coast of Scotland would be a prime location to set the power islands afloat. The plan was published in the Journal of Ocean Technology and details the reduced carbon footprint that can be expected from the use of the islands.

“They calculated that 1.98 million tonnes of CO2 would be saved in a year and approximately 158 million tonnes of CO2 can be halted from being released ‘into the environment’ during the 80-year estimated life span of the islands.”

Though the idea sounds good from a CO2 emission standpoint and would do away with many common complaints about green energy, it is noted that the islands would come at an extremely high cost. Each island would cost approximately $2.4 billion. Therefore, with the United Kingdom alone needing 200 islands to source their full energy needs, the bill would be quite substantial. However, Ross says that money shouldn’t be a determining factor as the money would quickly be recouped after just 11 years of use.

“Professor Ross reckons the huge initial expense would be recouped through domestic power bills in just 11 years, after which the floating islands would be producing power for only the cost of their maintenance.”

Ross also points out the added benefit of additional land that could be occupied should individuals want to move to the green energy islands. Ross says there is no reason that people couldn’t live on the islands along with the energy-producing gear just as they do now on the mainland.

Interestingly, Japan is already taking the lead on a similar project and has began constructing a solar power island.

What do you think about the idea of artificial “power islands” supporting the world’s energy needs?

[Image via AP/ Robert F. Bukaty]