Turbines that protect the coast

Get energy from a clean, inexhaustible source while protecting the coastline and marine animals. This is what a team of Japanese researchers achieved with a new turbine which, if installed in just 1% of the Japanese coastline, would not only help mitigate its erosion, but also could produce the equivalent of ten nuclear power plants (about 10 gigawatts).

To do this, you are five-bladed turbines inspired by their shape in the fins of a dolphin they would submerge in front of tetrapod cement structures and breakwaters, with which they would help protect the coast from erosion. At the same time, the turbines would be ideally located to maximize the capture of wave energy, while being close to the coast and taking advantage of pre-existing infrastructure, which would reduce costs and facilitate monitoring and maintenance tasks.

“Surprisingly, 30% of Japan’s coastline is covered by tetrapods and breakwaters”, says Professor Tsumoru Shintake, responsible for this University of Okinawa Institute of Science and Techology Graduate University project (OIST). Therefore, the expert emphasizes, if these structures were replaced by other “Clever” to which the turbines are attached, “They would generate energy and help protect the coasts”.

For the first point, that of renewable energy production, this equipment transforms the kinetic energy of sea currents into electricity that can be used on land solidify. To do this, the 0.7 meter diameter turbines rotate with the movement of the waves on their axis. This, in turn, is linked to a generator through which the captured energy is converted into electricity.

Turbines that protect the coast and generate electricity

Everything in this equipment has been scrupulously measured to offer an alternative to generate renewable, affordable and environmentally friendly energy. So, for example, a ceramic-based gasket protects all components and ensures a useful life of this equipment of up to ten years. Flexible and resistant to strong storms, these turbines are very easy to install, even on coral reefs, where they generate no visual impact.

To ensure that this technology does not cause damage to marine species that live near the coast, the rotational speed of the blades has been carefully calculated. This allows that, if one collides with them, it can escape without being damaged.

After the first phase of this project has yielded good results, its promoters are looking for industrial partners to keep this initiative moving forward. In fact, now the first commercial test is already under preparation, which will involve the installation of a series of medium-scale turbines which will be half the size of those projected.

“I hope these turbines work hard, but silently and efficiently, on every beach they are installed on”, trusts the person responsible for this innovation while continuing to work for it to bear fruit.