Alex Michaelis Envisions Creation of Multiple "Energy Islands" to Supply Planet's Resources

wind-powered island

Image courtesy of msalib

Now we're all for creative, ambitious proposals to tackle global warming here at TreeHugger - so long as they're (fairly) grounded in reality. That's why we can't help but think that Alex Michaelis' latest proposal - though clearly befitting the whole "vision" thing - may be a tad out there. Michaelis, the London-based architect who famously decided to build his eco-home underground (and who gave David Cameron's home a green makeover), has sketched out a concept for the creation of archipelagos of artificial islands in the warm waters of the south China Sea and Indian Ocean that would supply energy, clean water and food.

The eco-minded architect is hoping to secure the $25m of funding from Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Earth Prize with these so-called "energy islands." The floating platforms on which the islands would be built would use the ocean's water and thermal energy at their core to produce electricity and drinking water; underwater turbines would harness the energy from currents while floating devices along the edge would harness the wave power.

"Each energy island would operate in a similar way to an oil rig, with about 25 people living there to operate the energy systems and food farms. Teams of workers would spend six weeks on the island and six weeks off. The islands can be linked together so if you wanted a bigger power output you could simply build a bigger settlement. In the future these energy islands could be linked together to become eco-tourism attractions," said Michaelis.

Michaelis predicts that each island will generate about 250 MW; his father, Dominic, who is helping him with the project, believes it will be extremely difficult, but not impossible: "If we consider that we are at war to find a new form of clean energy, wartime effort in world war two produced vast numbers of planes, tanks, ships and other armaments on both warring sides. 20,300 Spitfires alone were built, making the construction of more than 50,000 of these plants seem a reasonable number."

The islands' inhabitants would be able to farm seafood in small pens below deck and to grow vegetables in shaded areas on the platform using some of the desalinated water produced by the plants in the platforms' cores - which Michaelis estimates will be around 300,000 liters, daily. He and his father plan on conducting a pilot in the waters off the British Virgin Islands or in the Indian Ocean over the coming year.

Given that many of the aforementioned technologies are already in place - or easy to deploy across much of the world - Michaelis' concept seems like too expensive and overwrought a plan for us to really consider at this point.

Via ::Guardian Unlimited: Energy islands could use power of tropics, says innovator (news website)

See also: ::Eco-Home Chic: Michaelis House, ::Update: Alex Michaelis' Underground Green House