Endless Green Power from Ocean Currents: Japan Tested a Giant Underwater Turbine

By: | June 9th, 2022

Image courtesy: IHI Corp.

After the devastating nuclear meltdown at its Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011, Japan searched for new sources of green energy.

Now, a heavy machinery maker in Japan called IHI Corp has successfully tested a giant deep ocean turbine that harnesses powerful ocean currents to generate limitless renewable energy.

The giant turbine resembles an airplane with two counter-rotating turbine fans in place of jets

The 330-ton prototype called ‘Kairyu’ is designed to be anchored to the sea floor at a depth of 30-50 meters (100-160 feet).

The plan is to place the turbine in the Kuroshio Current to pull energy from one of the world’s strongest ocean currents and transmit the electricity via seabed cables.

As per Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), the Kuroshio current may generate up to 200 gigawatts, or nearly 60% of the country’s current generating capacity.

The advantage of using ocean currents is their stability

Ocean currents are stable with little variation in speed and direction of flow. They have a capacity factor of up to 70%, almost similar to coal plants compared to roughly 29% for onshore wind and 15% for solar.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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