Offshore floating prison concept would create electricity for the mainland


June 5, 2013

The floating prison concept is not just self-sufficient, but actually creates electricity for the mainland

The floating prison concept is not just self-sufficient, but actually creates electricity for the mainland

Image Gallery (21 images)

However efficient a prison may be, it still typically expends significant energy resources. But what if a prison could actually create power, rather than just consume it? That's the thinking behind lecturer in architecture Dr. Margot Krasojevic's futuristic offshore floating Hydroelectric Waterfall Prison concept, which isn't just self-sustaining, but produces excess energy for homes on the mainland too.

As shown in the image gallery, the renders of Dr. Krasojevic's concept depict a rather dystopian-looking structure. Located in the Pacific Ocean near the Canadian coastline, the prison-cum-power-station sits atop a floating tension-leg platform tethered to the sea bed. A series of cantilevered loops create an even weight distribution.

The design calls for excess energy to pump seawater from the ocean, up into a 12,000 cubic-meter (almost 425,000 cubic-foot) prison hold, which is some 50 meters (165 feet) above sea-level. During peak electrical demand, the seawater is released through nozzles which pepper the carbon fiber outer surface of the building, eventually flowing onto the floating turbines below.

According to Dr. Krasojevic, this system would produce 3.2 megawatts, or enough to provide roughly 2,000 homes with electricity and keep the prison self-sufficient in power, too. The electricity produced is transferred to the mainland via underwater cables.

Dr. Krasojevic also envisions a secondary outer ring of Pelamis-like energy converters to make use of the local wave motions. However, the prisoners themselves take no active part, and there's no mention of anything like a JF-Kit House system for harnessing people-power, for example.

Though the Hydroelectric Waterfall Prison Power Station concept seems unlikely to be built in its present state any time soon, Dr. Krasojevic has been in discussion with developers in Beijing, so the idea itself appears to have piqued someone's interest.

Source: Margot Krasojevic via ArchDaily

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road. All articles by Adam Williams

I am not real happy about the idea of prisons that pay for themselves, much less produce a profit.

I used to think that was a great idea... until they "privatized" incarceration facilities in my area, and I have seen what the profit motive has done not just to the management of "correctional facilities" and the people in them, but even to the legal system itself.

Prisons SHOULD be a societal cost. Anything else produces too much incentive for abuse. I have seen it.

Anne Ominous

If I understand this correctly, its just an energy storage device and does not create energy. Using excess energy (I assume at off-peak) from the mainland, and storing it as potential energy with the water at altitude, then letting gravity take it down through the turbines during peak is energy storage.

Chris Walker

The futuristic design and green credentials of this facility, with its proposed "benefit" to the land population smacks of privately funded military prison in international waters.


re; Chris Walker

I believe it taps wave energy.

It idea is sound enough but the design needs to be redone by somebody that has a clue about practicality.


With any benefit being offset by the cost of transporting prison staff back and forth every day.... Silly idea is silly.


I agree with Anne Ominous on this one. If we take an economic rationalist view of prisons and criminality, and I don't think it unreasonable to do so, it would be better to leave prisons as a cost centre. If we as a society make profit from prisons and criminals then we as a society are encouraged to create prisons and criminals. If they are a cost then we are encouraged to reduce prisons and criminals. If there is greater profit to be made in addressing the core issues behind criminal behaviour than in simply locking people away I think we'll pursue those core issues. eg: poverty, lack of education, lack of opportunity (or perceived lack), discrimination and lack of social support systems. I'd hate to see a world where someone is eagerly rubbing their hands at the thought of imprisoning more people or even encouraging laws to criminalise more behaviour. Why not have an off-shore energy (and thus profit) producing school? Or a green factory or hospital?


Well-put everyone :) Hopefully government officials/private backers think just as clearly before they jump all over this idea. doubtful but one lives in hope

Saachi Sadcha

This project reflects the psychology of observation, models of urban surveillance and the Panoptican, we never know when or how we are being observed and this is a very important design criteria in either context. The design is striking, an interesting typology and pushing the boundaries of cross-disciplines in design. I find it veyr interesting.


This conflates the ideas of prison and energy generation. I don't see any substantial link between them. You might as well describe installing solar panels at an onshore prison. Am I missing something?


When I first came across the term 'pumped' in the HydroElectric Pumped Storage Power Plant at Kadamparai in Tamilnadu, India, I thought it was a spelling mistake or grammatical error. The principle of this HydroElectric Plant is similar to that of the Offshore Floating Prison, generating power for consumption when required and pumping water upward into the reservoir when demand is low.

George Vergese

Offshore, no one can hear you scream... Fascist. Taylor-made for authority abuse, Mafia-organised jailbreaks, and/or Hits, and finally, wholesale extermination of undesirables. Statists will love this, the fool-in-chief of the moment will claim he/she/it heard about the drowning of hundreds, from the news.

Edgar Castelo

With family visits rendered unaffordable, the rehabilitation rate should go down, creating a demand for more prisons. It makes sense to the capitalist economy.

Bob Stuart

When I read this article yesterday I was just feeling like VOMITING. LET'S LOCK UP THE AUTHOR of this invention, including his broad family over the ocean with a view ! Let them produce "profit".

I really wonder what he will think once he lost any other options in life but follow the enforced motions back and forth, in and out of cells, for the rest of his days. That is the only way some people would finally understand.

If there is anything really rotten in the US it is its criminal legal justice system: the preceding comments pointed out why. You just produce a criminal society and a prison society - for profit.

In the "land of the free"...the land of liberty....

I remind any of you here that a FALSE accusation is all it takes so that you can also become a fodder for this Moloch. Forget the naive idea that "you did not do anything bad". Once you happen not to have enough funding for your own attorney and have to rely on underfunded overworked inadequate defense provided as a "public expense"

you know what comes

the pro-profit prison stands a good chance to have you. The corrupt system just fed on your body and life.

(if you used your money you probably made the best investment in your life protecting your very existence...but you still funded the evil system and kept it operating. ...diverting the funds from your legitimate pursuits in life that would be NOT funded now: you will not build your own house or whatever your dream was. You just made profit for the evil system by other means.)

your life has ended. It started with an innocent idea of a prison producing profit. Or was the idea itself criminal?

(If there is any really rotten and criminal idea it is exactly this one. It comes second worst only after the idea of having the prisons eternal. ...thus justifying and perpetuating slavery on earth...My best guess is also to "produce energy." Many of you saw Matrix.)

It is revealing that the Chinese are interested... Another "land of the free"

Where are the glorious treadmills of yesteryear when the poor and criminals were forced to power mill stones that turned limestone into powder for cement? Put a fish farm at the base of these prisons and the convicts could raise their own protein. Prisons are like executions. When you whack off heads for all to see and have convicts doing slave labor under the public eye crime is discouraged. Put it all out of sight and crime is not discouraged at all. Would students not strive with fervor to educate themselves if they saw the poor on chain gangs? Nobody wants to have fun these days. Jim Sadler

Need this for China & Japan alone, India & Hawaii. Relocate to side of island facing toward mainland, the leeward side.

Stephen Russell

Taking special note of Image 6, we can assume Dr. Krasojevic is both white and racist.

Pumped hydro energy storage becomes economic only if the topography is favorable. This fabricated topography at sea is beyond ridiculous.


So why a prison? Why not make living for people off shore in addition to prisons which can allow people to live in a nice place and be Green.


I'd like to see a much more basic version of the design idea. We all love the idea of prison inmates up close to our power generation systems. Nothing like having a convict in charge of your electricity. ;)

Dan Lewis

I fail to see why the idea of making this a prison comes up at all. Why couldn't this be an offshore vacation resort, fish farm, or any other type of functional structure? In fact, why does it need to be anything other than a power station? I also agree that this article needs to explain where the energy, excess or otherwise, comes from. This article is woefully short on details.

David Leithauser

The combined intelligence of the current moneyed influence in governing is much less than the insight of its masses. However, the masses are no longer participating meaningfully in its governance. The "inventor" of this prison is simply pandering to this moneyed oligarchy. We need to stop designing for the 1% and start creating solutions for the masses, paid for with sweat equity and intelligence. Not too difficult, and with the Internet and its ability to connect, will soon evolve.


So, what's up with the prison thing anyway?

Are you saying that we cannot have free energy unless we are willing to become prisoners?

Challenge accepted.



Steven Boothe

Well, the render jobs are nice, and I have the impression that this project is all about creating a suitable story line or backdrop for the render jobs.

Pumping up water and then releasing it into free fall from the topmost point will by no means recover any energy, it will just dissipate it all on the way down. So there is not much chance this is ever going to become reality, be it with or without prisoners: No need to be concerned about the ethical part, the economics will be working on the 'good' side this time.


even assuming some generous numbers, with 50 metres head you need 7 cubic metres per second to produce 3.2MW, which gives you all of..... 28 minutes of power.


Gotta agree with CliffG - they only showed black men as prisoners. Makes me sick to even think of this project. And what do they mean by self-sustaining? There's no mention of food source - everything would have to be freighted in. As anyone who lives on an island knows, everything is more expensive on an island due to delivery costs. The only thing the author of the article got right was the use of the word "dystopian." And to put it in the Pacific off the coast near Canada would put it directly in the line of Alaskan weather fronts with high seas and bleak weather. It's not likely you'd have any rehabilitated people leaving here. Why not just put them all in prison on one of the Aleutian Islands. This is just wrong on SO many levels! Disgusting.


I think this is a great idea. Prisons should be self sufficient at the least, and if they produced a profit, a bonus. Prisoners have it far too easy.It's a revolving door in the legal system. Start bringing back the old style prisons, where people don't want to return. I don't care about treatment. I don't care about giving them an education.I just want the criminals off the street for as long as possible. Sheriff Joe understood how prisons should be run. There is so need for obese people in prison either. Reduce their calories, and increase their exercise. Take away all canteens, so they can buy nothing.Eat healthy food, that is served to them. If their diets aren't healthy now, have them grow gardens.


I think that the idea here is technically feasible, but there seems to be a lot of major difficulties in implementing and making one offshore prison work..

First, Securitization issues. Offshore prisons are most likely prone to terrorism and illicit financing because it would be next to impossible to monitor and track suspicious movement or trafficking around an offshore prison unless the entire prison was gated, which has it's own problems - that of course including wasting billions of US tax dollars on something we can't even know that works. There may be no assurance that the guards for the offshore prisons are even qualified, leaving the possibility of biological or nuclear terrorism around the shores to the United States - not particularly compelling.

Second. Weather Issues. This whole idea is only theoretically possible if you are hoping for no hurricanes or solar storms ever taking out a prison that is trying to generate electricity. If a geomagnetic storm or natural disaster were to occur, then the entire project collapses on itself.

Third, Human rights issues. We've all heard of the story about the German car salesmen that got deported to Afghanistan in an offshore prison guarded by Americans. Khaled El-Masri was beaten, stripped, and violated multiple days onward and no law enforcement has been able to address this current issue. This prison could potentially leave many innocent prisoners in worse condition than regular prisons.

Lastly, and this is more of a statistical issue, is perception. The way that Obama and Congress have worked for the last few years is that they try to pass legislation that sets the tone and pace for how America functions as a country. Building an offshore prison will almost certainly make other countries perceive the US as weak and moving toward a less-involved country in the worlds issues - what with ISIS, the Arctic, Ebola outbreak, and the South China Sea. Obama has done the bare minimum in foreign policy to keep some credibility - this would gut it almost instantly.

Therefore, Offshore prisons is probably a bad idea, unless the United States condones human rights violations and projecting global weakness, whereas it is important to promote the US is a global leader willing to address the real issues of the world and not some horribly designed offshore prison.

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