NEW LIVES FOR OLD OIL TANKERS


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If demand for oil and gas shrinks in the future, oil companies will face the problem of stranded assets: oil and gas deposits they own but can’t sell profitably because the market has moved on to renewable energy and non-petroleum plastics.
But there’s another kind of asset that might be stranded: a large number of the roughly 7,400 tanker ships – each one averaging the length of almost four football fields – criss-crossing the oceans to satisfy our thirst for oil and gas. What happens to them when we’re no longer so thirsty?
Various visions have emerged. Dock the ships at or near shore and turn them into college campuses, shopping malls, warehouses, luxury resorts, office complexes, low-income housing, or desalination plants. Imagine commuting to work or from home in a skiff!
But the British start-up Shipeco Marine has another idea: turn these giants into energy generators.
The idea: cut holes in the bottom of the hull, build a watertight cylinder atop each hole, and a put wave-driven electricity generator in each cylinder. Dock the ships near shore and sell the power.
But the most powerful waves are out at sea, not by the shore. So the ships could sail in search of the most powerful waves and use that power to make potable water or extract hydrogen from seawater for industrial uses. Shipeco Marine also sees the decks of these ships as traveling industrial parks, with manufacturers topside using the electricity generated onboard to make products that are being shipped to ports while they’re being made.
Lab tests have shown the concept of this “wave-energy ship” to be feasible, and Siemans has recently patented its HydroAir turbine that solves some of the technical challenges involved.
TRENDPOST: Hundreds of oil tankers wear out or rust out every year and are drydocked in Bangladesh or other Third World countries where laborers cut them up for scrap. Even now, this floating real estate could be repaired and given to purposes that ease demand for territory ashore or create space for high-need uses.

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