This self-sustaining hydroelectric prison can power 2,000 homes


I’m willing to bet that when you first think of a prison you don’t exactly think of an energy efficient platform. Dr. Margot Krasojevic’s concept of a hydroelectric waterfall prison will actually provide energy to mainland homes, in addition to being self-sustaining. After viewing some of the mockup screenshots, I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t look half bad either.

Essentially, the structure is attached to a tension-leg platform designed to withstand the seas, which also happens to be tethered to the sea bed. Weight is evenly distributed by unique structural loops, which aid in keeping the entire platform in the proper position. A pump sucks seawater up and pours it out onto surrounding turbines floating below, creating a waterfall-like energy system. The energy is produced for the prison, and excess juice is transferred via underwater cables to the mainland.

Dr. Krasojevic says that the setup is capable of producing 3.2 megawatts of excess energy, which is approximately 2,000 homes. Of course, the prison will also power itself too as mentioned above.

When I first heard about the project I pictured prisoners in a hamster like setup running to generate power. Unfortunately, that’s not how Dr. Krasojevic’s concept will work. Personally, I think it would be a good idea to put some of those prisoners to use for the good of society, but that’s just me.

It doesn’t look like the Hydroelectric Water Prison Power Station will be built anytime soon, but the good Dr. is apparently discussing the concept with developers in Beijing. That means we could see something like this adopted elsewhere in the world. Just consider for a moment how eco-friendly a structure like this would be? Tree huggers would love it!

I stand by the idea that we need to find alternate power sources for the future. This would certainly be an interesting setup, provided it works as advertised. I’m sure more than a few tourists would even venture to the structure to snap a some photos. Can you imagine, traveling to a prison like this just to get a great photo op? Wait… we do things like that already, don’t we?

Check out the source link below for more information and some more concept screenies.

[via Gizmag, Margot Krasojevic]

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  • JMJ

    [@Bub] I see your points. I was assuming a number of things: That the prison would be high/maximum security AND would be housed separately from whatever-other-facility. It never occurred to me that the prisoners should operate the other facility. If I understand you correctly, you see the possibility of using suitably trained/equipped, low-risk prisoners to operate the other facility. Aside from the concerns about the rights I mentioned above, that might be a good idea.

    Aside: There currently are many white-collar, non-violent offenders in maximum security prisons. Bernie Madoff immediately comes to mind.

  • Bub

    You misunderstand me. I wasn’t expressing concern about an escape risk, but rather a security risk created by colocating prisoners with an important piece of infrastructure. You can’t get a job at most power plants without taking a criminal background check. (I just made that “fact” up, but have little doubt that it is true.) So why would you house people who are still serving time on the premises?

    The probability that it is a high or maximum security prison makes things worse, not better, in that you are more likely to have dangerous offenders. A bunch of white-collar criminals would arguably be able to run such a station effectively with minimal risk.

  • JMJ

    [@Donna] What would they learn, Donna? They surely would not be operating the advanced equipment, most/all of which would be self-regulating anyway. Engineers do not form the largest group of criminals. Now, if you are talking attorneys…. ;-)

  • JMJ

    [@Bub] I don’t think so. Such a prison as discussed here would most likely be a high or maximum security facility and escape from those is extremely rare. For example, a similar prison, the now closed Alcatraz prison off the coast of California, had only one successful escape by two (three?) prisoners in its history. They are believed to have died swimming from the island to the mainland.

    BTW, as a usually proud American, I’m embarrassed to suggest that you take a look at these statistics:

  • Donna

    Give prisoner’s a choice to be there and I put money on it that there will be more prisoners then stations to provide for the ones that would be willing to go. It is an awesome idea. I agree. Put them to work for the good of our planet and society. And they learn while they are there. And help the over crowded system. How Cool.

  • Bub

    The design does generate power, although the article is incomplete and only discusses the pumped storage aspect. See my previous comment.

  • Bub

    Along that same line of reasoning, wouldn’t there be a security risk in keeping prisoners on the site of an important infrastructure element such as a power plant?

  • David

    This seems to be just a pumped storage scheme. It’s not in total a generator- overall it consumes energy.

    Oh, and constructing it will take a lot of energy too…

  • wellduh

    Velly intestling! Ve got all deez peoples who screwed up in plison, feeding dem, colored tv, running water, gyms to vork out in….. vy not put dem on a treadmill and let them run and walk and produce electricity?

    Velly goot idea. start with congress people who aren’t worth the pay they get. Better idea!

  • JMJ

    Here in the U.S., it’s estimated that it costs US$ 40,000 per year to incarcerate the 2,000,000 prisoners now locked up. Like the author, I’d like to see them not only paying for their keep but producing something for the societies they have harmed. But, I don’t get how this idea helps in that, at all. If such a power station is feasible and eventually built, how would having prisoners, or anything else, located there matter? The energy output would be some definite amount. Any prison would use some definite amount. So, whether the prison were located near or far from the energy source would make no difference, right?

    I can see lots of legitimate objections to doing this anyway. Even though, I presume, the prisoners would have been properly removed from society, they should not be put at risk of injury or death from, for example, a tether or structural loop failing. Also, some logistical problems would also arise; namely, the extra costs of returning them to the “mainland” for court appointments, medical care, attorneys’ meetings, families’ visiting, etc. Again, here in the U.S., there would be — and, I think, should be– many objections.

    Now, if such a power station were located away from populated areas and shared space with a dangerous chemical or nuclear-power plant or bio-hazard facility or some such, then it might be a good idea. Aren’t there already many off-shore wave and tide electricity generating operations?

    Anyway, that’s a cool looking picture.

  • Bub

    The explanation given here is incomplete. As described, it would violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics; you would inevitably use more energy pumping the water up than you gain as it falls back down through the turbines.

    The design also involves a ring of wave energy converters (not mentioned here) that power the pumps. The reason for this extra step of pumping + waterfalls is to provide a mechanism to store energy during low-demand times and release it during high-demand times.

    The Gizmag source link provided also gives the incomplete explanation, but it that article provides another source link with more detail: If any design details are to be found at Margot Krasojevic’s site, I can’t find them.

  • JonE

    It will be interesting to see one of these structures built to see just how the end product is actually constructed (I see no bars), how many inmates it can actually house, and how much excess electricity it may actually be able to produce. It might also be interesting to see if any of these type structure are built for different purpose, such as business, for example, or perhaps housing. And it will be interesting to see if they actually construct these structures on the water or on land, near the water.

    I would think that once one of these structures is actually built and proven that many other types of applications will be thought up for them.