Disclaimer: This is rehashed from an article I wrote in September 2017 for GineersNow. Some parts are added or edited for clarity.
Nothing good comes out from typhoons but the destruction of nature and structures and the helplessness of the people. That may no longer be the case now in typhoon-hit Japan, with a ground-breaking idea from an engineer that aims to utilize typhoons as a source of energy.
Atsushi Shimizu, a Japanese engineer, has invented the world’s first typhoon turbine that takes the shape of an egg beater. It could withstand powerful tropical cyclones but also harness kinetic energy. The typhoon turbines also serve as the best alternative to European-style wind turbines being brought to Japan that are not designed for typhoon zones like Japan.
Through a company called “Challenergy” founded by Shimizu in 2014, he was able to source fund and produce a typhoon turbine. It significantly follows the conventional wind turbine design except for two: the inclusion of an omnidirectional vertical axis susceptible to any wind pattern and the incorporation of the Magnus effect.
The engineer said that one typhoon could generate enough kinetic energy to power the entire Japan for 50 years. This claim is supported by the Atlantic Oceanographic & Meteorological Laboratory, who noted that a single mature typhoon can produce kinetic energy that is “equivalent to about half the world-wide electrical generating capacity.”
Nuclear power is Japan’s main contributor of electricity before the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster happened in 2011. It became dormant now and the country has been importing 84% of its total electricity needs because wind and solar power are not fully utilized.
Photo Source: Challenergy