New Wind Turbines Could Power Japan For 50 Years After A Single Typhoon

Typhoons are generally associated with mass destruction, but a Japanese engineer has developed a wind turbine that can harness the tremendous power of these storms and turn it into useful energy. If he's right, a single typhoon could power Japan for 50 years. Conceptual image of a typhoon turbine array. (Image: Challenergy)

Atsushi Shimizu is the inventor of the world's first typhoon turbine -- an extremely durable, eggbeater-shaped device that can not only withstand the awesome forces generated by a typhoon, it can convert all that power into useable energy. Shimizu's calculations show that a sufficiently large array of his turbines could capture enough energy from a single typhoon to power Japan for 50 years.

Shimizu shows off a model of his typhoon turbine. (Image: Challenergy)

Given that Japan is currently dealing with an energy shortage -- a problem incited by the 2011 Fukushima disaster -- this comes as a very welcome solution. As Shimizu told CNN, "Japan actually has a lot more wind power than it does solar power, it's just not utilised."

Shimizu is not wrong. Japan has already seen six typhoons this year. Shimizu, the founder of green tech firm Challenergy, believes that Japan has the potential to become "a superpower of wind".

A functional typhoon turbine prototype. (Image: Challenergy)

The typhoon turbine differs from conventional turbines in two important ways. It works on an omnidirectional axis that allows the machine to survive unpredictable wind patterns, and the speed of the blades can be adjusted to ensure they don't spin out of control during a storm.

Tests of a prototype yielded 30 per cent efficiency, which is 10 per cent lower than propeller-based turbines. The difference, of course, is that Shimizu's turbines can actually survive a storm. Back in 2013, Typhoon Usagi destroyed eight conventional turbines, while damaging eight.

A functional prototype was installed near Okinawa earlier this winter, and the next big step is to test the device under high-wind conditions. All that's needed now is a typhoon.

It's not immediately clear where all the incoming energy will be channelled, whether it be sent straight to the grid or stored in large batteries (Tesla's large battery backup comes to mind). We've contacted the company to learn more.


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    from a single typhoon to power Japan for 50 years
    Man, I'm more interested in the fantastic storage device that be charged in a few hours and hold energy for 50 years!!!!

    but until they build it, they can take this idea and just blow it out their....

    a single typhoon could power Japan for 50 years
    stored in large batteries (Tesla’s large battery backup comes to mind).
    There is no way that Tesla's batteries, good as they are, could cope with something like Japan's energy requirements for 50 years. Tesla's batteries, by the data in the link above, will cope with supplying energy to 2500 homes for a day.
    Given there are about 50 million households in Japan, and we need to power them for 50 years, that makes it.....
    50,000,000/2500 for 365 x 50 = 20,000 x 18250
    or 365 MILLION Tesla 'large' batteries.

    I don't think so.

    Maybe they could sell these typhoon turbines to South Australia so they didn't have to shut them down when it gets windy.

    It is not clear in the article whether conventional propeller-based turbines have 40% efficiency or 33% efficiency - that is, "10%" more than the 30% efficiency measured for these omnidirectional vertical axis turbines.

    This is the same as saying my new steel pole I just developed could harness enough power to run all of Australia for x years from a single lightning storm. It's not about capturing the energy. It's how you can store such a large amount of energy in the short period you have to capture it and as far as I know that's the problem with these ideas.

    This is just a ruggedised VAWT ( Nothing new to see here.

    I think more accurately the statement is 'An sufficiently large array of turbines could generate 50 years worth of energy from a single typhoon'. Given that a sufficiently large array of shitty solar panels could power Japan for 50 years from a single days sunlight, the statement is clearly meaningless. Also, given their is no way practically to store the energy (molten salt? fly wheels?) then it can't actually power Japan for 50 years.

    Still, nifty idea

    Yes What a clickbvait title.

    Only clicked to see what ridiculous premise they were using.

    VAWT's are well known about.... we all have our pet theories of how to make the world a better place, but I don't quite think one of those will power Japan.

    You will need to make it at least 2 times bigger, add batteries and frickin lasers any you may light up a streetlamp in Kyoto.

    (I could make technical suggestions, but no point.)

    Sounds like they could be pushing $&!# uphill. Derr!

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