Has IHI Corp finally cracked the clean energy code?
So the earth isn’t doing too well at the moment.
Maybe you’ve noticed that California is always on fire, and that every summer seems to be the hottest on record, or the second hottest on record.
And let’s not even get started on the ice caps.
Attempts to raise public awareness, divert investing away from fossil fuels and generally find ways to power the world that don’t add more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere have been pushed.
But it’s very much an open question as to whether society can reduce its carbon footprint in time to prevent catastrophic climate change.
It’s very easy to fall into despair about the situation, and to just assume the worst is inevitable.
So that’s why any time there’s a promising development in the field of green energy, it’s encouraging news for people who hope we can still turn this whole planet around in time.
Now, a new development from Japan indicated that, just maybe, the dream of clean, renewable energy is still achievable.
IHI Corp’s Ocean Turbine May Be A Breakthrough
The Japanese heavy machinery maker IHI Corp has been developing what is called Kairyu, Bloomberg reports,
The device is entirely green and consists of a “subsea turbine that harnesses the energy in deep ocean currents and converts it into a steady and reliable source of electricity.”
The 330-ton prototype is designed to be anchored to the sea floor at a depth of 30-50 meters (100-160 feet), where it will harness the power of deep sea turbines.
IHI recently completed an almost four year demonstration study of the Kairyu, conducted in conjunction with Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization.
The test proved that the turbine was able to generate the 100 kilowatts of stable power, and plans to have a commercial operation ready by next decade.
It would be located in the Kuroshio Current in Japan’s eastern coast, and transmit the power via seabed cables.
NEDO estimates that the turbine could potentially generate up to 200 gigawatts — which would be close to 60% of Japan’s present generating capacity.
Ocean Energy System, an intergovernmental collaboration established by the International Energy Agency, believes it may be possible to generate 300 gigawatts of ocean energy globally by 2050.
IHI aims to generate power at 20 yen, or 0.16 cents, per kilowatt-hour from large-scale deployment
Location Is Everything
The key ingredients for a successful turbine seems to be a location that has a strong enough current to generate electricity.
It also must be a portion of the sea that is not overrun with ships, and able to be safely installed and maintained.
Japan is one of the world’s leaders in alternative energy, such as wind and solar power.
The challenge for Japan is that the country has not typically drilled for oil in the ocean before, and therefore is inexperienced offshore construction.
This will make the construction of a turbine able to withstand the deep ocean current difficult.
IHI said it conducted an environmental assessment before it launched the project.
The company will use the test results to examine any impact on the marine environment and fishing industry.
Competition is Out There
Other companies are also looking to harness the ocean’s energy to create clean, green power.
They include SIMEC Atlantis Energy’s MeyGen, Aquantis, Orbital Marine Power and others in testing stages with international governments or science centers.
“The biggest issue for ocean current turbines is whether they could produce a device that would generate power economically out of currents that are not particularly strong,” said Angus McCrone, a former marine energy analyst, told the news service.