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Ambassador report

Ambassador report

[Ambassador report] [environment and tech]: the modern neverland: how artificial islands may beat emissions

by Alice Ervaz | 13-02-2020 02:41 Comments 5 Comments recommendations 0 recommendations

I was thirteen when, in my design class, I first read about fossil fuels possibly running out in 2030. An underage, extremely-impressionable me was immediately appalled at the thought of not being able to rely on oil anymore — not that I knew much about it, but my country only recently managed to switch to renewable energy sources (only for one third!), so my worries were not exactly unfounded. Despite being hopeful towards sustainable new ways of fueling our economy, I was on the skeptical side.

The thing is, seven years later, at the beginning of a new decade, the future of fossil fuels looks less grim than it did before. While our natural resources seem indeed to be diminishing, they craftiness of our scientists for sure isn’t. On my commute to Milan to attend a workshop about energy in a corporate social responsibility framework, I came across a really cool article on how some Missouri scientists are turning tons of turkey offal into black gold through thermal depolymerization. At first I thought it was very cool, but then it hit me. We are moving in circles, switching to solutions that still allow us to be not 100% sustainable. While I do appreciate this proactiveness, I still feel like we still have much to do to bring our level of emissions to an acceptable level. While reducing greenhouse gasses is definitely a good strategy, what about the emissions that are already out there? A recent paper in PNAS might offer a viable option in this field.

It is pretty much renowned that the Earth is composed of 70% water. Not for nothing, we are often  called the “the blue planet”. Some researchers from Norway and Switzerland were fascinated by this and, realizing the potential of such an asset, designed a giant floating solar farms system that could extract atmospheric carbon dioxide while producing methanol fuel. The current issue with renewable energy lies in its low level of competitiveness compared to the more accessible and ready-to-use fossil fuel, therefore, the implementation of such a project would be a great opportunity to change the paradigm and push towards a more sustainable future.

Recent studies found 70+ locations in the world in which the artificial islands could be set up: the facilities would have to be placed in areas where average wave height is less than seven meters, there is low hurricanes-incidence and the seabed is less than 600 meters far from the surface of the waters. Areas of the ocean near the coasts of Latin America, North Australia, the Arabian Gulf and Southeast Asia seem to be especially fit for mooring these islands.

According to the estimates of the experts, the work of 3.2 million floating facilities would exceed the total worldwide emissions of fossil fuels — to demonstrate this, the scientists are currently designing the first prototype. Furthermore, NBC News reported that a single floating solar farm could earn more than 15,000 tons of methanol yearly — more than enough to sustain a Boeing 737 airliner on around 300 round-trip hauls between New York City and Phoenix.

While the proposal already has its detractors, a successful implementation of the project my yield incredible results and change the paradigm of dependency on fossil fuels in the long run. Technically speaking, nothing is ever new under the sun. Germany and France already have similar plants in their water basins, however, the innovative concept lies in transforming these facilities in large-scale producers of sustainable fuel, competing against the oil hegemony. While it is not the definitive solution to end the climate crisis, experts argue it is yet another step for humankind to achieve 100% a sustainable existence.


Jasmine Karki

  • Jasmine Karki says :
    I do hope everything is going well..

    Thank you so much for sharing your report on the modern neverland:how artificial islands may beat emissions!!
    Was awesome to go through it..

    Green cheers
    Jasmine karki
    Posted 13-03-2020 12:10

Kushal Naharki

  • Kushal Naharki says :
    Hello Alice

    I do hope that you are fine and doing great with your works.
    Thank you for your report about the modern neverland: how artificial islands may beat emissions

    Green Cheers from Nepal :)
    Keep writing great reports.
    We are eager to read more reports from you.

    Kushal Naharki

    Posted 17-02-2020 21:43

Hyeongmin Mentor

  • Hyeongmin Mentor says :
    Hello Alice

    This is such an interesting report about solar farm on the water. In the process of transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, some kind of innovation should be planned and I can see the one right here. Whether or not it can actually replace the fossil fuels, putting some efforts for potential energy will eventually bring the bright future.

    Thank you for the informative report!
    Posted 14-02-2020 23:53

Lisa Mentor

  • Lisa Mentor says :
    Hey Alice!
    It's Lisa:)

    You have a very very unique and interesting topic here!
    Never thought of anything like this an artificial island as a true Neverland!
    Yet, I think that this is not the fundamental solution for what we have done and I am sure that you are aware of that as well.
    Meanwhile, it could help us to get a fresh start.

    Very difficult decision to make isn't it?
    What are your thoughts?

    Would like to hear more about it:)
    Great article!

    Posted 13-02-2020 23:40

Deepak Jangra

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