Japan tests technology to capture energy from typhoons

Signal of change / Japan tests technology to capture energy from typhoons

By Anna Simpson / 18 Oct 2019

A Japanese start-up called Challenergy has tested a Vertical Axis Wind Turbine (VAWT) in Okinawa that is designed to withstand high wind speeds, enabling it to capture the kinetic energy from typhoons. Its Magnus VAWT turbine has withstood wind speeds of 225kph/140mph. 


Traditional wind turbines can break under the pressure of typhoons, and so are disconnected when storms hit for safety or avoided altogether in typhoon-prone regions, including parts of Japan. GE Renewable Energy is working to strengthen their design, but its current leading product - which can withstand winds of 205 kmph/128 mph - would not weather a typhoon.



So what?

As Japan recovers from Super Typhoon Hagibis, the questions of how we can both mitigate the damage of such storms in future, and potentially put their power to good use, is pertinent. The kinetic wind energy of a tropical cyclone represents the equivalent of about half the world-wide electrical generating capacity.    For Japan, the question is also significant, as it searches for low-carbon alternatives after halting nuclear production following the Fukushima disaster in 2011.   Across the world, more frequent and stronger storms pose a risk to energy infrastructure and systems. What other emerging solutions could safeguard and even strengthen access to energy and other crucial resources in times of crisis?  



What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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