Of course, onshore resources are first.
Of course, it will take a long time before it’s real business, but we can start with the vision…
Where is the most “energy intense” location on earth in terms of wind, solar and other renewable sources? Is it onshore or off-shore?
Let’s see what sea energy harvesting is about…
There was in 2011 an interesting research I recommend here, that overlapped the irradiation and the temperature, in order to determine where solar can yield more, given the PV panels are less efficient the higher the temperature. The resulting optimal areas for generation where the Himalayas (not too accessible), the Antarctica (similar to off-shore) and regions in the southern Andes.
A similar map superimposing the wind power potential, the solar potential, taking into account the temperature effects, including ocean thermal & wave energy (off-shore), and geothermal onshore, would help clarify the question above. It is relevant for example to locate global’s most energy intensive industries (as long as logistics are not a strong shortcoming), or to generate and export energy, in the form of electricity or another vector such as hydrogen.
Let’s suppose the most energy intensive areas are off-shore, but are not in the (economic) reach of HVDC connections. How could that potential be tapped?
Off-shore platforms or vessels with energy generation capacity of wind, solar, wave, ocean thermal or a combination of those, plus a desalination plant and hydrogen production and storage system. The produced hydrogen could be commercialized in any market, making these platforms what oil fields are still today. Even more, these systems could synergize with aquaculture, producing water, food and energy (reminds me of this post…), thus improving the capacity to cover the needs of a world with 10 bn people soon after the mid century.
There is an ongoing project, co-financed by the seventh framework programme and due to finish by end of this year, called H2Ocean, researching the topic. The proposed multi-use off-shore platforms, would consist in wind & wave energy generation, desalination and H2 storage, as well as fish farming.
There is also a project for developing hydrogen generating vessel, called the Windhunter. In this case it’s sole purpose is energy generation, and the project’s goal is to team up wind generator manufacturers and ship builders to make it real.
It looks like not only the vision exists, but also some steps have been taken towards the design and testing of such systems.