Through snow, we can create electricity. Forte, a Japanese tech company, is working with Tokyo’s University of Electro-Communications to bring this form of power generation to life. The collaborative effort is set to be operational from December 2022 to March 2023 in the city of Aomori.
The snow collected will be loaded on trucks and transported to a shuttered school. It will then be poured into the swimming pool for the process initiation. This power is generated around the temperature factor, more specifically, generating electricity from the temperature difference between the snow and the outside air.
The system, developed by Koji Enoki, an associate professor at the University of Electro-Communications, consists of heat transfer tubes surrounded by the snow and the outside air which is always warmer. The difference in temperature stimulates convection currents within the turbine, which eventually rotates the turbine, generating electricity.
According to the professor, the cycle may produce electricity as efficiently as solar energy and at a reduced cost. Using the temperature differential approach to generate electricity is a common goal for Japanese companies in the future.
Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), a Japanese marine shipper, intends to commercialize a system that generates power by using the temperature difference between surface water and marine depths. The company predicts that the electricity cost will be 20 yen, or 14 cents, by the year 2025.
Furthermore, the scientists intend to use the heat from the hot springs to create even greater temperature variations.
According to Associate Professor Enoki, the greater the temperature difference, the greater the efficiency of electricity generation. In Northeast Japan, where there is significant snowfall, there are many hot spring resorts. Sukayu Onsen in Aomori is one of them.
To develop a new energy source to replace fossil energy, which has significant environmental consequences, while raw materials are scarce and becoming increasingly depleted, scientists have been exploring ways to create power from renewable energy sources with minimal environmental impact.
According to Forte President Jun Kasai, the snow-powered notion was inspired by the concept of generating electricity using sand. Kasai believes the new technology could be advantageous for European countries enduring acute power shortages.