Turbine to Produce Sustainable Electricity from Ocean Currents (Important) (Download PDF)

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Researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) , Japan in a project titled “Sea Horse,” harnessed energy from the Kuroshio Ocean Current flowing from the eastern coast of Taiwan and around southern parts of Japan.

Turbine to Produce Sustainable Electricity
  • The new turbine can harness energy from ocean currents producing low-cost and sustainable electricity.
  • Uses submerged turbines anchored to the sea floor through mooring cables that convert the kinetic energy of sustained natural currents into usable electricity
  • Electricity is delivered by cables to the land
  • The ocean energy source is cheaper and easier to maintain.
  • The new turbines can be placed in the tetrapods.

What Are Tetrapods?

Tetrahedral Concrete Structure Used in Breakwaters
  • Tetrapod is a tetrahedral concrete structure used in breakwaters.
  • Special shape dissipates the force of incoming waves by allowing water to flow around rather than against it
  • They reduce displacement by allowing random distribution of tetrapods to interlock

From Wave Turbines to Power Plants

  • Power plants would put turbines at key locations near the shoreline such as near tetrapods or among coral reefs, to generate energy.
  • Allows turbines to be exposed to ideal wave conditions to not only generate clean and renewable energy, but also protect the coasts from erosion
  • They are affordable with limited funding and infrastructure.

Advantage of Using Tetrapods to Harness Energy in Japan

  • Tetrapods are concrete pyramids structures placed along coastline to weaken the force of incoming waves and protect the shore from erosion
  • Thirty per cent of the seashore in mainland Japan is covered with tetrapods and wave breakers
  • Replacing these with “intelligent” tetrapods and wave breakers with turbines attached to or near them, would generate energy, and protect coasts
  • Just one per cent of the seashore of mainland Japan can generate about 10 gigawats of energy- 10 nuclear power plants

Details on Turbines

  • Built to withstand the forces even during harsh wave conditions as well as extreme weather, such as a typhoon.
  • Blade design and materials are inspired by dolphin fins- flexible, and able to release stress rather than remain rigid and risk breakage.
  • Supporting structure is also flexible like the of a flower- bends back against the wind.
  • Turbines also bend along their anchoring axes.
  • Built to be safe for surrounding marine life with blades rotating at speed allowing caught creatures to escape.

- Published/Last Modified on: October 21, 2017


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