A new Seattle-based startup has taken seed funding from Tusk Ventures and billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen to pilot a project that will provide resources and electricity to six isolated small islands in the remote Indian Ocean that are home to more than 400 families. Piloting on the islands in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands will begin next year, once the company secures land lease agreements to develop solar and wind energy generation at a rate of 80% of US levels. Tusk Ventures and Paul Allen are investment vehicle; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a strategic partner.
The project — called Project Icarus — has some special interest for Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. In 2015, the billionaire announced plans to build an Olympic-sized swimming pool on tiny Amata Island, U.S. Virgin Islands, as a part of a new project to bring clean energy and electricity to other remote Pacific islands, mostly in the Pacific Ocean.
Lori Schwab, executive director of the Ocean Cleanup Foundation, says they will focus on cleaning up the reefs. They have installed six machines on part of the wrecks, where they successfully removed plastics that are about half the size of a tennis ball and nine inches thick. The group says the machines could remove thousands of pounds of garbage per day, capable of reducing annual trash volume by a sixth.
“We’re installing several of these devices per month, and they’re getting bigger and getting faster and we’re actually going to be continuing this deployment over the next few months,” Schwab told Business Insider
“But we really, kind of, hit the tipping point, I’d say, this year, the world’s been talking about plastics becoming so pervasive that we’re going to have to clean up the trash that’s actually washing up on the shore, and in the ocean more,” she says.
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As a point of comparison, a traditional sewer system could cost anywhere from $10,000 to $125,000 per acre to build.
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Water intake pipes need some type of stabilising material to prevent water loss. Some tools and materials —including gravel and rocks — are available to the water industry. Companies and investors have worked to meet that need with the Cloud Hedge — a floating deck that can float on top of pipes where data or wastewater is being pulled in.
“A success for the project is that it could potentially be used around the world — and could provide opportunities to finance farm projects and eliminate need for expensive infrastructure.”
Bryn Anderson is a contributor at Business Insider. She writes about business, science and technology. Follow her on Twitter: @alexmurphrey.