Japan's promising trial of an undersea turbine that generates power from deep ocean currents

Originally published at: Japan's promising trial of an undersea turbine that generates power from deep ocean currents | Boing Boing


The article doesn’t explain how they would avoid hurting marine life. Hope these things don’t become big whale blenders.


I’m constantly being disappointed by wave and tide generators because those are apparently under huge mechanical stress in storms etc. This seems like a more viable route and with the technology developed for oil extraction it should be able to work well in the deep sea.


I did a bit of digging, there’s some impact, but less than most other forms of energy generation. For one, they’re big enough that most wildlife knows to avoid them, and there are diversion barriers and filters to keep the turbines from getting clogged up with debris, fishing nets, and marine life. A study in Ireland on a similar system found that a migrating eel only lost about 0.3% of its population while going through a channel with their system in it. A big consideration as well is going to be keeping the fishing vessels far, far away from these things, or they’ll be wrecked by fishing nets within days – fields of these may well serve as breeding reefs. I just hope, if this becomes very successful, that someone figures out at what point the loss of energy from the currents becomes an environmental threat, possibly to the thermohaline system, or something unexpected.


I’m fairly certain that the entire world’s energy needs wouldn’t put a dent in the power of ocean currents. Climate change will, but a few turbines won’t


Power from the ocean’s depths, eh?


The turbines in this demo appeared to be exposed, unshielded blades, 11m diameter. But this was just a scaled-down demo unit and the real ones would be larger.

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But what will we do for power when it’s night ?the wind isn’t blowing?

Someone help me here, please?


This is great. The future of energy is a collage of smaller solutions, depending on what works best each region. The days of one big magic energy bullet are over.

A tired argument against efforts like this is “that can’t replace current power plants because it’s too small or won’t work anywhere else or [reasons]”. The future is a patchwork quilt of power systems of all different types, which is why grid upgrades and storage are so critical.


Pacific Rim?


That almost sounds… resilient.


Indeed :+1:


So… we’re getting another monster energy bill?

*jazz hands


But what will we do when climate change makes the oceans dry up?


The wind turbine companies had studies and big promises too, now they just pay a fine for dead eagles.

The best thing about this tech is no dead carcasses will be found.

I hope the data you found is correct, it’s not your investigating but rather the monied interests I don’t trust.

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Just tap into whatever these guys are using for power


At night , the ocean is agitated by a huge diesel turbine running clean bunker fuel.


This is the kind of concern that struck me from the get-go. Global sea currents are engines for global weather. The Japan Current and it’s analogue, The Gulf Stream, are the reason why the Pacific Northwest and Europe has such mild weather. Should those currents slow dramatically or stop…

Personally, I don’t understand why Japan hasn’t turned to Geothermal energy production. Especially considering the number of hot springs everywhere there. It’s like an obvious solution staring you in the face.

But what will we do when climate change makes the deep ocean currents stop?


Well, the truth is that wind turbines don’t really kill that many birds. We’re not doing a whole lot about it because it isn’t that much of a problem.

By far the top causes of bird deaths are domestic cats, and collisions with glass buildings. Habitat loss is in the mix somewhere, depending on how you count it. Wind turbines don’t even make the list.