By: Wendy Laursen
Japanese companies IHI and Toshiba have been selected by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) as co-researchers in an ocean current turbine demonstration project.
IHI and Toshiba, together with the University of Tokyo and Mitsui Global Strategic Studies Institute, have been conducting relevant research and development financed by NEDO for about three years.
The result is a unique underwater floating type ocean current turbine system that will now be tested to demonstrate its ability to generate power in a real ocean environment. The system consists of a power generation device with two counter-rotating turbines. It is anchored to the sea floor and floats like a kite carried and driven by ocean currents.
IHI is the lead company in the co-research project and will manufacture the turbine and floating body. Toshiba will supply electric devices such as the generator and transformer.
Ocean currents, such as the Kuroshio Current off Japan’s east coast, are a natural energy resource with little fluctuation in flow regardless of time or season. In Japan, an island nation, success in converting the massive power of the ocean current has the potential to create a large-scale, stable power source.
The project expected to continue until 2017 and is expected to prove the viability of ocean energy power generation, to create the framework for an industry and to contribute to improved energy security for Japan.