Japan may soon be able to harness the power of typhoons thanks to an invention by Japanese engineer Atsushi Shimizu who aims to provide electricity for their country in the next 50 years through a turbine.
“Typhoons are normally nothing but a disaster.”
Shimizu stated a fact that is unquestionable and had been proven time and again.
Despite this, the Japanese engineer sees potential in the destructive force brought about by the natural disaster which he believes could be a viable solution to his country’s growing dilemma on electricity shortage.
According to CNN, Shimizu intends to harness the power through an invention: the world’s first typhoon turbine.
Shimizu explained that the kinetic energy produced by a single typhoon could power the entire Japan for 50 years.
Citing the Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory, CNN noted that a single mature typhoon can produce kinetic energy that is “equivalent to about half the world-wide electrical generating capacity.”
The Japanese inventor plans to use his typhoon turbine—a robust, egg beater-shaped wind turbine—not only to withstand powerful tropical cyclones but also to harness its kinetic energy.
“For decades, Japan has brought in European-style wind turbines, not designed for typhoon zones, and installed them with no careful consideration — they’ve broken almost entirely,” Shimizu told CNN.
Prior to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011, most of Japan’s electricity is expected to be sourced from nuclear power.
Unfortunately, three nuclear meltdowns caused by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands of people forced Japan to change its course.
And with very little solar energy to use, Japan is left with few options and is now importing 84 percent of its total electricity needs since most of its nuclear power plants now sit dormant for the nation’s fear of the power source.
Thankfully, Shimizu found another significant and abundant source of energy.
“But in terms of energy Japan actually has a lot more wind power than it does solar power, it’s just not utilized,” he explained.
“Japan has the potential to be a super power of wind.”
Because of this, Shimizu founded a green tech company called “Challenergy” and was able to source funds to produce a wind turbine that he described as “unbreakable by a typhoon.”
Shimizu’s team used the basic design of a conventional wind turbine with only two fundamental alterations: the addition of an omnidirectional vertical axis that is durable enough to withstand unpredictable wind patterns and the incorporation of the Magnus effect.
“The Magnus effect offers an unprecedented level of control over the turbine’s blades.”
In order to achieve the Magnus effect, the team tightened the center rod to allow easier adjustment the blades’ speed that would prevent it from spinning out of control.
After successfully installing their first prototype in Okinawa in July, the team has been testing the typhoon turbine in the presence of a real-life mature typhoon.
According to Shimizu, they intend to install more typhoon turbines all over Japan particularly in Tokyo in the near future.
“I want to install our wind-power generator at the new National Stadium or on the Tokyo Tower, because the Eiffel Tower installed a wind-power generator last year at the time of the COP21 (climate summit).”
Shimizu feels that his invention is one of the few valuable services he can offer his country to help it progress even further than it already has.
“Our generation reaped the benefit of nuclear power — we never experience a power black out because of it. Now we are responsible for changing the future.”
[Featured Image by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]