The oceans of the world are a phenomenal source of resources. The seas offer a tremendous amount of food, means of easy and fast transportation, and entertainment. Another important resource that we derive from the ocean is power. Starting with watermills, mankind has been harvesting the energy of water for thousands of years. Technology has advanced quite a bit since the first water wheel, allowing engineers to collect even more energy from the ocean.
We’ve already taken a look at floating desalination plants, which specialize in creating cheap drinking water for trouble areas as quickly and efficiently as possible. The floating design of the desalination plants inherently has several advantages. They are easy to deploy, portable, and can work just about anywhere on earth. There is no need to grapple with local zoning laws when you can just haul the desalination plants several miles off the coast and switch them on.
Phil Pauley’s new power plant design operates on many of the same principles. His Marine Solar Cells float on the surface of the water. Rather than create clean drinking water, however, these cells generate green power in two distinct ways.
First, the floating orb-like power generators collect energy through the motions of the waves, transforming kinetic energy into stored electricity. Second, the surfaces of the orbs are solar panels, collecting energy from the sun. These solar panels should be up to 20% more effective than their terrestrial counterparts because the natural reflective surface of the ocean increases the amount of light that the orbs can capture.
These Marine Solar Cells are convenient in so many ways that it is hard not to praise the design. They’re relatively cheap, green, easy to set up, and can be deployed anywhere on earth to give power wherever it is needed most. These power cells represent a trend in aquatic architecture that is becoming increasingly apparent with every new aquatic convention: the vast, unused space of the ocean is a resource that we are just beginning to utilize. Unowned, free, and relatively accessible, the surface of the ocean is sure to be the home of many new architectural projects.