Researchers offer to create millions of artificial islands in the oceans, what will clean the air.
Floating islands, converting atmospheric carbon dioxide to fuel, is the resolution that could help protect our climate from the burning of fossil fuels, scientists suggest. These proposed islands would be clustered together to create large-scale facilities that—if enough were built—could eventually offset the total global emissions from fossil fuels.
A team of researchers from Norway and Switzerland has put forward a proposal for ‘Solar Methanol Islands’ in a paper published in PNAS. The article argues that most of the technology to build these facilities already exists, and that by creating them on a large scale in ocean regions where they would be safe from large waves and extreme weather, we could drastically reduce the need for fossil fuels, thereby limiting the extent of global warming over the coming decades.
“Humankind must cease CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning if dangerous climate change is to be avoided,” they wrote. “However, liquid carbon-based energy carriers are often without practical alternatives for vital mobility applications. The recycling of atmospheric CO2 into synthetic fuels, using renewable energy, offers an energy concept with no net CO2 emission.”
Study author Andreas Borgschulte told Newsweek that one of the main problems with renewable energy is making it competitive with fossil fuels on a large scale. Several concepts have been put forward to try to make renewables a realistic option, but nothing has yet found its way to fruition. He said the idea for the solar islands came when the Norwegian researchers were asked by the government to push fish farms out to open sea. These grids, however, needed their own energy. “Energy ‘producing’ islands had been proposed some time ago,” he said. “What remained was to include energy storage.”
In the paper, the researchers suggest floating islands similar to large-scale floating fish farms. They would use photovoltaic cells that could convert solar energy into electricity. This would then power hydrogen production and CO2 extraction from seawater. The gasses produced would then be reacted to form methanol that can be reused as a fuel, “which is conveniently shipped to the end consumer,” they wrote.
The team says 70 of these artificial islands would make up a single facility that covers an area of around one kilometer squared (0.4 square miles). Facilities could be placed in areas where wave height reaches less than seven meters, where there is a low probability for hurricanes and the water depth is less than 600 meters, so the islands can be moored properly.
With such criteria locations for facilities were easy to find across the globe/ They are proposed to be settled by the coasts of South America, Australia and Southeast Asia.