HI Corp Japan has successfully tested a prototype of a massive, airplane-sized turbine that can generate electricity from powerful deep sea ocean currents.
The deep sea turbine off the coast of eastern Japan has proven capable of producing almost as much energy as a coal plant.
Its consists of a 66-foot fuselage, each side of which has a similarly-sized turbine cylinder attached. Both turbine cylinders contain power generators, control mechanisms, and measuring systems which correspond with their respective 36-foot turbine blades. The machine sends all generated energy up a series of cables for use on the country’s power grid.
Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) estimates the current design can be scaled and can provide the country with 200 gigawatts, or up to 60 percent of its energy needs.
Ocean current power generation is a harvesting method of ocean renewable energy. This energy regeneration technology is intended to effectively utilize the Kuroshio Current and is suited to Japan. In August 2017, IHI and New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) conducted a demonstration experiment of the world’s first 100 kW-class ocean current turbine located off the coast of Kuchinoshima Island, Kagoshima Prefecture and obtained data for commercialization.
As an approach to the commercialization of this technology, a floating type ocean current turbine capable of stably generating power is highly expected to serve as a low-cost energy source for remote islands, where power generation is forced to rely on internal-combustion power generators because it is difficult to receive electric power from the main islands of Japan via power cables.
It is designed to operate around 50 m below sea level to generate power efficiently, having a mechanism that utilizes depth measurements from water pressure sensors and a buoyancy adjustment device built into the central pod to enable the optimum position under water to be maintained.
Moreover, attitude control devices are built into the ends of the left and right pods to enable the ocean current generator to generate power while floating with the proper attitude in the ocean current. In addition, the ocean power generator has a mechanism that changes the pitch angle of the blades of the turbine rotors in accordance with the speed of the ocean current so that electric power can always be efficiently generated at any flow speed. Usually, this control is autonomously performed by the control system included in the floats.
Technologies for ensuring the watertightness and resistance to water pressure of floating structures and rotary machinery are important for enabling such a generator to operate under water. In the development of these technologies, IHI’s shipbuilding technologies were put to full use.
Ocean Current Power System Development Group,
Co-Creation Project Center,
Technology & Intelligence Integration,