Climate change has become a very important issue nowadays and many people in the scientific community are already taking measures to protect humanity from Earth’s rage while also creating new forms of renewable energy for the public.
Japan is well known for its progress in this area and a group of researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) is working in a new project that is considered by many ”revolutionary”.
This new project consists in special turbines that harvest renewable energy from waves and since sea level rise has also become a problem in Japan, they have also been designed to protect coastlines from erosion.
If the project is successful it’ll be a modern and clean way to produce energy, since the region is well known for being very seismic and this causes big waves all year. These turbines can be anchored to the sea floor or even coral reefs with mooring cables near tetrapods (star-shaped structures made from concrete).
Tetrapods are used on many coasts around the world and they are well known in Japan also, ”…more than 30 per cent of the seashore in mainland Japan is covered with tetra-pods and wave breakers” said Professor Tsumoro Shintake, who is the lead researcher on the project.
Shintake has also commented that the project will help to create more energy than other source of energy in Japan, ”Using just 1% of the seashore of mainland Japan can [generate] about 10 gigawatts [of energy], which is equivalent to 10 nuclear power plants…”
According to the researchers, each turbine would feature spinning blades attached to a permanent magnet electric generator, protected by a ceramic layer to keep seawater out. Each turbine will have five blades with a diameter of 70cm for blade.
The energy captured from the impact of the waves, would be sent through a cable down the structure and back to shore for grid usage.
These blades are also designed to be environmental-friendly, since they will be calibrated to rotate at speed that are not dangerous to marine life. Moreover, they will be able to withstand difficult conditions like typhoons and earthquakes, since the structure can even blend to avoid cracking.
The blades will have a lifespan of 10 years and existing maintenance routes for the tetrapods could also be used to repair the turbines if necessary.
Shintake and his team know that the future is today and hope that this project could last for many generations in the coming years: “I’m imagining the planet two hundred years later and I hope these [turbines] will be working hard quietly, and nicely, on each beach on which they have been installed.”
The team hope to finish the research quickly so they can move on to the next phase, which will be installing two half-scale “WEC” turbines on a stretch of coastline to give power to LED lights, after this, Shintake hopes that the project will catch the attention of more people and will be used in all around the world widely.