New wind turbine that harnesses the energy of typhoons could power Japan for 50 yearsBy Rob Thubron 22 comments
Japan feels the devastating effects of typhoons several times per year - in 2016 alone there have already been six. They can cause a trail of destruction, along with many dead and injured civilians who get caught in their path. But an engineer from the country has designed a new type of wind turbine that can harness this immense energy and use it for good.
Atsushi Shimizu claims that a series of his prototype devices could collect enough energy from a single typhoon to power the whole of Japan for 50 years.
The unique, egg beater-shaped turbine's omnidirectional vertical axis can withstand an intense storm's powerful winds and rain. Moreover, the speed of the blades are adjustable, meaning they won't spin wildly out of control - a big problem with super typhoon speeds reaching up to 150 mph.
The Fukushima disaster saw Japan turn away from nuclear power. It now imports 84 percent of its energy requirements. "Our generation reaped the benefit of nuclear power - we never experience a power blackout because of it," Shimizu says. "Now we are responsible for changing the future."
CNN reports that while Japan has tried to use wind energy in the past, the attempts have largely proved unsuccessful.
"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," added Shimizu.
Modern, propeller-based turbines generally achieve a 40 percent efficiency rate. While Shimizu's turbines hit 30 percent efficiency, their advantage is that they can work during a typhoon.
Shimizu's company, Challenergy, installed one of the prototypes in Okinawa earlier this year. He now wants another to be located either on the Tokyo tower or at the new National Stadium. A method of storing 50 years of power would also be helpful.