The global population is growing and space and resources along the coast are limited. Therefore, the development of novel offshore technologies allowing for the exploitation of oceanic resources becomes more and more important. The TROPOS project aimed at developing a floating modular multi-use platform system for use in deep waters, with an initial geographic focus on the Mediterranean, Tropical and Sub-Tropical regions, but designed to be flexible enough so as not to be limited in geographic scope. The floating design facilitates access to deep sea areas and resources where deployment of conventional platform types is not possible. The modular multi-use approach allows integrating a range of functions from four different sectors: Transport, Energy, Aquaculture, and Leisure (in short: TEAL). Three different concepts were developed in the scope of TROPOS with various combinations of TEAL functions: the Green & Blue concept, the Leisure Island and the Sustainable Service Hub. Appropriate locations for the different concepts were identified and final TROPOS scenarios were defined with the help of a specifically developed GIS support tool: (1) Green & Blue scenario north of Crete, integrating wind energy exploitation and fish and algae aquaculture; (2) Leisure Island off the coast of Gran Canaria, combining leisure facilities with the use of solar energy; (3) the Sustainable Service Hub on the Dogger Bank (North Sea, UK), focusing on transport and energy related needs of the offshore renewable energy sector, i.e. it provides service for offshore wind farms. Additionally, two future scenarios were developed: a Green & Blue scenario in Taiwan, integrating aquaculture with OTEC; and the Offshore Container Terminal in Panama, serving as a central energy and transport hub. The design of the three official scenarios was specified in much detail and all scenarios were assessed by considering their particular logistic requirements, economic viability, and environmental and socio-economic impacts, and refined according to the results wherever necessary and feasible. The aim was to develop multi-use offshore platform concepts that allow for the sustainable and eco-friendly use and synergistic exploitation of oceanic resources.
On the following pages first the context and the specific objectives of the TROPOS project are presented, followed by a description of the main scientific and technical results obtained for each objective. The outcomes of TROPOS range from developed methodologies for decision support and impact assessments and design validation, to innovative technological solutions for the development of modular multi-use offshore platforms, and to the assessment and viability of each scenario and deployment strategy. In the end, the potential impact of the project’s results on the society, the scientific and engineering community, the industry, and stakeholders, users and operators of future multi-use offshore platforms are discussed. The outcomes of TROPOS are expected to have a wider influence in different fields. The developed technological solutions and design specification provide a base on which future developers and the offshore industry may build. The developed methodologies may serve as guidelines and examples for future projects. The insight gained and lessons learned regarding logistic requirements, economic potential and limitations, environmental and socio-economic impact, identified gaps in regulations and obstacles may be of great use for future developments. Not only future developers and operators, but also regulatory bodies can build on this existing knowledge while avoiding problems and complications in designing and planning at early development stages. This will help the industry and the authorities to save time, efforts and costs. Finally, the TROPOS project significantly contributed to the advancement of knowledge about multi-use offshore platforms, not only among particular scientific communities, but also in terms of a better understanding of the wider public, developers and policy-makers about the possibilities of future marine activities and the implementation of large-scale offshore infrastructures. This enhanced awareness and knowledge will most likely increase the acceptance of future offshore multi-use deployments.