Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands

Coordinates: 27°59′32″N 15°22′6″W / 27.99222°N 15.36833°W / 27.99222; -15.36833

Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands
Abbreviation PLOCAN
Motto "to promote sustainability and long-term observation of the ocean"
Formation 5th April 2008[1]
Type Consortium between the Government of Spain and the Government of the Canary Islands
Purpose/focus Scientific research
Coordinates 27°59′32″N 15°22′6″W / 27.99222°N 15.36833°W / 27.99222; -15.36833
Key people Octavio Llinas (Executive Director) and Jose Joaquin Hernandez Brito (Manager)
Website http://www.plocan.eu/es/index.php

The Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands (PLOCAN) is a consortium located in Gran Canaria dedicated to science and technology in the marine and maritime sector in the region. Its mission is the cost-effective combination of services such as observatories, test beds, underwater vehicles support, training and innovation hub.



The project was approved in 2007 as a node part of the Spanish Network of Large Scientific and Technological Infrastructures (ICTS) within the framework of the Ingenio 2010 Program [2]. Its creation was officially published in the Spanish Official Journal on 5th April 2008 [1]. The facilities are expected to be ready by 2013, though scientific and research activities are already taking place.


PLOCAN will contain a set of experimental facilities and laboratories on the ground, an offshore platform located on the edge/shore of the continental shelf and deep observation sites, some of them connected by cable. It will have sensors, vehicles, vessels, etc. The oceanic platform will access the deep ocean, remotely connected to all sorts of vehicles, machinery and underwater work instruments to observe, produce, use or install services resources at depths that, up to now, were only possible for the industry of hydrocarbon exploration and extraction.


The concept of oceanic observatory defines a set of infrastructures that allow the characterization and study of its surrounding space, from the subsoil to the atmosphere, in scales ranging from nanometres to hundreds of kilometres and from microseconds to decades. PLOCAN will initially provide support for observation in three different environments: the ESTOC site[3] (European Station for Time-Series in the Ocean Canary Islands, operated until 2010 by Canary Islands Institute for Marine Sciences), a deep-water cabled observatory and the coastal waters around the PLOCAN offshore infrastructure. The ESTOC site will be supported by survey-dedicated research vessels, buoy systems and autonomous vehicles (currently three gliders are sampling the area and can be made available for missions in other areas). It will contribute to support climate initiatives such as Oceansites[4]. The deep water cabled observatory will provide 2 nodes at 0,5 and 2 Km depth, respectively, of powered fibre optics, located North-East of Gran Canaria Island. More nodes are planned to be added in the future at greater depth. The PLOCAN offshore infrastructure is a fixed structure located 4 km from the coast at 50 m deep. Once built and operational, the platform will have a base surface of around 900 m2 and at least 2500m2 of research capacity. It will provide space for laboratories, instrumented containers, landing area for helicopters and capacity to accommodate permanently at least 10 researchers. The platform will be equipped with a set of sensors at several depths and will be the backbone and the control centre of the observation sites.

Test bed

PLOCAN combines test bed services together with ocean observation facilities to improve, accelerate and reduce costs related to the development of new oceanic technologies and marine experiments. The developed tests and experiments are designed avoiding any interaction with other marine spatial uses, respecting and offering the maximum environmental protection guarantees. This test bed has a marine surface area of 8 km2 which comprises the necessary infrastructures for the development of different experiments. One of this test bed's main research topics is related to renewable marine energies, in particular wind and wave energy. In this sense, the necessary electrical infrastructure will be provided to connect testing prototypes to the grid and be able to evacuate the generated energy. PLOCAN is now participating in the WELCOME (Wave Energy Lift Converter Multiple España) Project, led by the Spanish company PIPO Systems. Its aim is to build a 1:5 scale prototype that exploits wave energy to generate electrical energy. This prototype will be anchored in PLOCAN test areas during the first quarter of 2011.

Submarine Vehicles, Instruments and Machines

PLOCAN offers a base for the support and development of new technology for underwater vehicles. The concept of base of vehicles, instruments and machines (VIMAS) is defined as the place, facilities and services that optimize (to simplify, to lower the price, to make more trustworthy) all the operations of these ocean devices. The operations include maintenance, testing, transportation, deploy, anchorage, gathering, connection, supply, etc. PLOCAN's strategy promotes national and international collaboration to share the use of large vehicles in the area (ROVs, AUVs, etc) focusing on the research and development of small, light-weight, low-cost autonomous underwater vehicles such as gliders.

Innovation Hub

An innovation hub is a set of integrated infrastructures, technologies, knowledge and capacities that PLOCAN offers to the scientific and enterprising community to develop new ideas, concepts, products, services and practices, with the intention to be useful for the increase of productivity and its successful application in the market. Companies may count with PLOCAN's infrastructure availability to develop new products and services in the marine environment sector.

Education and communication

PLOCAN will provide, in collaboration with educational institutions, all training programs, from professional to the postdoctoral training, including specific training and training for the use of facilities and devices and gain access to the deep ocean.

Information Technology

PLOCAN will have information technology services for internal purposes, collaboration with external bodies and the acquisition and management of data.


  1. ^ a b "Boletín Oficial del Estado del 5 de abril de 2008" (in Spanish) (PDF). Madrid, España. 5 de abril de 2008. http://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2008/04/05/pdfs/A18902-18908.pdf. Retrieved 31 of January 2011. 
  2. ^ "Programa Ingenio 2010" (in Spanish). http://www.ingenio2010.es/. Retrieved 31 of January 2011. 
  3. ^ "Estación Europea de Series Temporales de Canarias" (in Spanish). http://www.estoc.es/. Retrieved 31 of January 2011. 
  4. ^ "Ocean Sites" (in English). http://www.oceansites.org/. Retrieved 31 of January 2011. 

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