Offshore turbines have been all over the news lately, from new prototypes to offshore land auctions. The wide, empty oceans seem like the perfect place to put wind farms, and countries all over the world are taking advantage of them. But one Japanese company has an entirely different take on the concept.
Tapping into Two Sources
Modec, an Engineering company based in Tokyo, is working on a new turbine that will generate energy from both the wind and the waves. The Skwid uses a dual turbine system: one floating above the surface to catch air currents, and one underneath to catch currents in the water.
The wind turbine uses a vertical design, with three main rudders. This design will help it capture twice the energy of a horizontal turbine, and will conserve space at the same time. The Skwid turbines will initially be tethered to the shore; however, future technology could allow the turbines to be loaded with batteries, extending the potentially useful area far out into the ocean.
Roughly 80-90% of the device’s energy output will come from the wind turbine on the surface. Water currents don’t have quite as much energy potential. Still, the addition of that extra turbine could help tap into an unused energy source, generating more power for a relatively low cost. The hope is that just one of these turbines will be enough to give energy to as many as 500 homes. Of course, since the turbines are still in development, that mark is still a ways off.
The beauty of this idea is that the main structure already exists in the form of the standard floating wind turbine. The space underneath floating turbines is going completely unused; the anchor beneath it prevents any kind of fishing, and ships give the turbines a wide berth. By using that space, the energy potential of any given area of ocean is greatly increased.
Modec’s turbines are slated for testing later this fall, and could be in use within a few years. If you’re interested in learning more, check out this video by CBS, discussing the turbines and their creator.