Green Float: Floating Cities by 2025?
Japanese firm Shimizu has a startling new concept: mini floating, carbon-neutral cities that drift across the Pacific on giant water lilies. The Green Float concept includes a number of cells that could house between 10,000 to 50,000 people.
The cells, each about 1 kilometer wide, could float freely or attach onto other cells to form larger towns, cities or even countries. At the center of each cell, a 1 kilometer high “City in the Sky” skyscraper would house the majority of residents, made from light alloys from the metal deriving from magnesium in sea water.
Grasslands and forests would be plentiful around each pod, essentially becoming self-sufficient in terms of food with farming and livestock throughout the 'plains.'
The creative concept Shimizu has dreamed up would potentially cut carbon emissions by 40 percent, scientists claim. Each cell would convert waste back into energy using the latest green technologies, and even collect islands of floating waste to harvest more energy.
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Of course, the cities would have to float in waters guarded from extreme weather and tidal waves—ideally near the equator. Strong elastic membranes standing 30 feet above sea level would surround the cells to protect inhabitants from large waves. Sea walls as high as 100 feet could also be constructed, creating cities that are arguably more equipped to handle tsunamis than most coastal areas.
Too outlandish? Not according to Shimizu scientists, who are actually proposing to develop the first cells by as soon as 2025. They're not only working on the technologies to make it happen, but even thinking up new ways to collect solar energy on earth by encircling the moon with a belt of solar collectors.
Major move forward for UK’s nascent marine energy sector
Although the industry is small and the technologies are limited, marine-based energy systems look to be taking off as “the world’s most powerful tidal turbine” begins grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre.
At around 74 metres long, the turbine single-handedly holds the potential to supply the annual electricity demand to approximately 2,000 homes within the UK and offset 2,200 tonnes of CO2 per year.
Orbital Marine Power, a privately held Scottish-based company, announced the turbine is set to operate for around 15 years in the waters surrounding Orkney, Scotland, where the 2-megawatt O2 turbine weighing around 680 metric tons will be linked to a local on-land electricity network via a subsea cable.
How optimistic is the outlook for the UK’s turbine bid?
Described as a “major milestone for O2” by CEO of Orbital Marine Power Andrew Scott, the turbine will also supply additional power to generate ‘green hydrogen’ through the use of a land-based electrolyser in the hopes it will demonstrate the “decarbonisation of wider energy requirements.”
“Our vision is that this project is the trigger to the harnessing of tidal stream resources around the world to play a role in tackling climate change whilst creating a new, low-carbon industrial sector,” says Scott in a statement.
The Scottish Government has awarded £3.4 million through the Saltire Tidal Energy Challenge Fund to support the project’s construction, while public lenders also contributed to the financial requirements of the tidal turbine through the ethical investment platform Abundance Investment.
“The deployment of Orbital Marine Power’s O2, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is a proud moment for Scotland and a significant milestone in our journey to net zero,” says Michael Matheson, the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport for the Scottish Government.
“With our abundant natural resources, expertise and ambition, Scotland is ideally placed to harness the enormous global market for marine energy whilst helping deliver a net-zero economy.
“That’s why the Scottish Government has consistently supported the marine energy sector for over 10 years.”
However, Orbital Marine CEO Scott believes there’s potential to commercialise the technology being used in the project with the prospect of working towards more efficient and advanced marine energy projects in the future.
“We believe pioneering our vision in the UK can deliver on a broad spectrum of political initiatives across net-zero, levelling up and building back better at the same time as demonstrating global leadership in the area of low carbon innovation that is essential to creating a more sustainable future for the generations to come.”
The UK’s growing marine energy endeavours
This latest tidal turbine project isn’t a first for marine energy in the UK. The Port of London Authority permitted the River Thames to become a temporary home for trials into tidal energy technology and, more recently, a research project spanning the course of a year is set to focus on the potential tidal, wave, and floating wind technology holds for the future efficiency of renewable energy. The research is due to take place off of the Southwest coast of England on the Isles of Scilly