Studio Class at Umeå University
Studio Class at Umeå University

Offshore In-Flux

This project was developed by Barbara Schickermueller as a student from University of Applied Arts Vienna and was submited to the WAS awards 2017 under the Facilities category.

OFFSHORE IN-FLUX by Luca Melchiori and Barbara Schickermueller

A monument for the compromise between intervening and reserving nature.

Offshore IN-FLUX is aiming to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of oil platforms in order to work against the climate change and the resulting sea level rise, but still takes in consideration the world’s oil reliance. Currently already the production and extraction process of oil is releasing enormous amounts of co2 and methane, since the energy which is driving the process itself derives from the combustion of fossil fuels. By replacing this with a renewable energy power plant that is directly connected to the oil rig the related emissions could be decreased drastically. How? The kinetic energy of tides and waves that are increasing because of the sea level rise, is transformed into potential energy in order to produce electricity to run and maintain the platform.

91 % of all greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the combustion of fossil fuels. Global warming and therefore sea level rise are the consequences.

The earth has already experienced high and low emissions of CO2 in the atmosphere on a regular basis, causing different types of climate change. But it is certainly for the first time, that this everlasting growth of emissions such as Methane and CO2 is caused by mankind.

Although there is all this knowledge and all these informations, still sea levels are rising and not enough is being done in order to counteract. There have been renewable energy sources all along. For example the artificial solar cell was already invented in the late 19th century. But there has been a lack of efficiency and reliability in these new technologies.

Only now that the world is facing such a difficult environmental situation, there have been made investments in these new technologies and therefor also the efficiency increased. Still oil is an essential and indispensable resource in the field of medicine, technology and development. But on the other hand, as a source of energy, there are valuable renewable alternatives.

Just recently governments all around the world have started to commit to climate agreements, such as the Paris Climate Agreement, to switch to renewable energy sources in order to fight the climate change.

While oil production will be decreasing, renewable energy sources will be increasing, leading to a smooth transition replacing fossil fuels with green energy. But this transition will take 35 to 50 years, during that time oil rigs and oil combustion are still producing vast amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.

Offshore IN-FLUX is addressing this specific time period by reducing the emissions related to the production process.

The easily accessible onshore oil resources are exhausted. Only complicated and environmentally damaging drilling methods, such as fracking, are capable of extracting the oil from the soil. However, offshore oil resources are more concentrated. Therefor also the efficiency of an offshore oil rig is much higher and it is releasing the least amount of greenhouse gas emissions in comparison to these other more complicated methods.

In addition to that, Offshore IN-FLUX is aiming to reduce these emissions even further, by replacing the energy supply of an oil platform with green energy. Green energy that is coming from a grid of power buoys which convert on one side the kinetic energy of the waves into potential energy in order to drive turbines and retrieve energy. And on the other hand convert the kinetic energy into air pressure that drives air turbines. To cover all of the energy demand of the rig, underwater tidal turbines are further added.

After the oil well is emptied, the drilling segment of the whole structure will get dismantled.

Left are monumental power plants which will further provide energy to the onshore infrastructure. Already during the drilling process, the scaffolding structure underwater becomes an artificial reef, attracting vast amounts of fish. This holds the opportunity of adding an aquaculture and fish farm to the power plant.

The aesthetic argument of our tower megastructure was the glorification of technology as the only way to overcome the worlds current environmental challenges. The interaction of all these different machines and components creates an almost poetic composition. Though it is on the fine line of reality, between being utopian and dystopian.

The prototype of Offshore IN-FLUX is located on the western coast of Lofoten Islands, an archipelago above the polar circle in Northern Norway. Being aware of the fact, that an oil platform could potentially have a big impact on these idyllic natural landscapes, the project is trying to find a compromise between intervening and reserving nature. The remaining renewable energy power plant serves as a monument for the successful transition into a sustainable society.