Giant Floating Solar Farms Could Make Fuel and Reduce Greenhouse Gases in the Atmosphere

If there were millions of floating islands in the ocean that were operating to convert carbon dioxide into methanol fuel, then the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would be reduced, according to researchers.

In a paper published in PNAS, a team of researchers put forward a proposal for “solar methanol islands.” They propose a combination of existing technologies to use solar and wind energy to “produce H2 and to extract CO2 from seawater, where it is in equilibrium with the atmosphere. These gases are then reacted to form the energy carrier methanol.”

The researchers emphasized that while a massive reduction in carbon-based fuels is necessary, these liquid fuels will still be important for energy storage in the foreseeable future. 

“A massive reduction in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning is required to limit the extent of global warming. However, carbon-based liquid fuels will in the foreseeable future continue to be important energy storage media. We propose a combination of largely existing technologies to use solar energy to recycle atmospheric CO2 into a liquid fuel,” the authors of the study wrote in PNAS.

According to the plan, the energy islands would be built in areas of the ocean free from extreme weather and large waves. Suitable areas, according to the researchers, would be off the coasts of South America, Australia, the Arabian Gulf and Southeast Asia.



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