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Wind power on steroids: Typhoon turbines to provide the ultimate clean energy to Japan by 2020

Monday, February 27, 2017 14:43
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Vertical axis wind turbine [credit: Challenergy]

‘Wind power on steroids’ or another madcap ‘sustainability’ scheme that never gets off the ground? No mention of storage, and typhoons are far from everyday events.

In what could be the ultimate clean energy, Japan is set to start harnessing the energy of typhoons, with wind turbines that are able to withstand intense storms – and turn them into power, reports the IB Times.

Typhoon turbines, also known as the Magnus Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT), were first thought up by Atsushi Shimizu, chief executive of Challenergy Inc. After seeing the widespread destruction caused by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, he wanted to find a way to provide a safe and sustainable source of energy.

A spokesman for the company told IBTimes UK: “In Japan, there is a lot of potential in wind energy, but the energy composition of wind source is surprisingly low due to typhoons potentially breaking conventional wind turbines. Instead, he thought he would develop the new type of wind turbine which can convert the overwhelming energy of typhoon into the clean energy.”

In 2014, Shimizu got the patent for the prototype Magnus VAWT, and the company believes energy generated by the typhoon turbines will be available by 2020 – in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.

Magnus VAWT converts wind to energy in the same way as traditional wind turbines do – three rotating cylinder wings rotate the generator inside the centre pole. However, the speeds at which they can generate power are far, far higher.

“Our first field test unit placed in Okinawa since last August is designed to withstand in the maximum wind speed, 80 metres per second (179mph),” Shimizu told IBTimes UK. “It experienced two typhoons and safely continued its generation even in the maximum wind speed, 25 metres per second.”

At present, a standard wind turbine in the UK would shut down once wind speeds reached 25 metres per second. An average, onshore turbine has a capacity of between 2.5-3MW. This provides enough energy to supply 1,500 homes with electricity for a year.

A single Magnus VAWT can currently generate 1kW of electricity output. Shimizu is currently working to scale this up to 10kW. “We just developed the first field test unit and successfully completed the first year of field test,” he said. “That unit can only generate 1kW of electricity output. Based on our market research, we need to scale up this electricity output to at least 10kW, 10 times bigger than that of the test unit.

“We are now developing the detailed design of 10kW wind turbine and by 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics we are aiming to start the commercial operation and mass production of Magnus VAWT, first of a kind wind turbine in the world.”

Exaggerated claims

Previous reports suggested that with the Magnus VAWT, a single typhoon could power Japan for 50 years. This is not the case, Shimizu explained: “They misunderstood the past estimation that theoretically one typhoon potentially has the amount of energy equivalent to the electricity consumption for 50 years in Japan. We don’t think our turbine could power Japan for 50 years by just one typhoon.

“We are developing the turbine that can work with the rated output in the middle of a Typhoon. This means that our 10kW-rated turbine generates 10kW in the middle of a Typhoon. Japan has long cherished the sentiment of ‘mottainai’ (literally, ‘don’t waste what is valuable’). We can’t use whole energy of a Typhoon, but we believe that we should try to use energy of a typhoon even just a little, with soul of ‘mottainai’.”

The report continues here


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