We are all familiar with the tragedy of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which was caused by an enormous tsunami that occurred back in 2011. It brought the nuclear power debate back to life.
Now, one Japanese engineer wants to harness the power of another potentially destructive force in order to generate energy. Atsushi Shimizu has created a wind turbine that can withstand the terrible force of typhoons, and it can gather their energy to provide clean power.
“For decades, Japan has brought in European-style wind turbines, not designed for typhoon zones, and installed them with no careful consideration—they’ve broken almost entirely,” Shimizu said to CNN. Now, that could all change.
There is tremendous potential in typhoon energy—it is estimated that one typhoon is equivalent to half the worldwide electrical generating capacity, and if we could harness all of its energy, Shimizu asserts he could power Japan for 50 years.
To that end, Shimizu has constructed a special turbine, one that looks like an eggbeater. It utilizes the Magnus effect to prevent the turbine from spinning out of control. The design helps it withstand unpredictable wind directions.
Taking advantage of typhoon energy may seem like a moonshot, but we already have structures that can withstand hurricane force gales.
And given our current climate crisis, it is not like we can afford not to do it. The green revolution is all about harnessing the power of Mother Nature and moving away from fossil fuels in order to end the current mass extinction event and help protect our biosphere. Countries like Japan are regularly battered by typhoons, and this is one way of taking advantage of the situation.
But more than that, if we are to advance as a species, we will need this type of technology. Advancing to a Type I civilization in the Kardashev scale means being able to control the elements—sunlight, volcanoes, earthquakes, and yes, even typhoons.
This could be another step towards getting humanity beyond our Type 0 classification status.