New Tuna Turbines Revolutionize Tidal Power

Wave and tidal energy is one of the most interesting and promising forms of renewable energy currently available. However, it is also one of the most difficult to start and operate efficiently due to the obstacles companies find when working in the ocean. The ocean, as a rule, can be unforgiving and far more powerful than many initially anticipate. Due to this, many wave and tidal projects have gone out for testing only to be recalled after suffering damages from debris or the currents and waves themselves. One company, however, believes that they may have discovered a solution to the problem.

Nova Energy, a Japanese based renewable energy company, is a relative newcomer to the business. The head of the company, Suzuki Kiyomi, started the company in 2007 with the immediate goal in mind to begin developing a tidal power turbine. Suzuki believes that one of the keys of developing an efficient form of tidal power is by moving away from the idea of placing fixed turbines in the water that are constantly bombarded by debris or placed outside of the strongest parts of the current when it shifts. Instead, he is hoping to defeat those obstacles by creating a turbine that rotates on an axis to move with the shifting currents while increasing efficiency by shaping it like one of the denizens of the sea: the tuna.

Suzuki Kiyomi began developing the renewable energy tuna turbine designs in 2008 when he tested a smaller version of the turbine in test tanks with great results. Currently, they have placed turbines in the Akashi Strait in the Seto Inland Sea that have six meter long propellers and an estimated energy capacity of five kilowatts. The Japanese government is backing Kiyomi’s project with a variety of subsidiaries that come to around $1.4 million in hopes that projects like his can help prepare for global warming and further the nation from its dependence on foreign energy supply.

Nova Energy’s future plans hope to see a massive increase in their renewable energy projects and the growth of the tuna turbine. They are hoping that by the end of the current Japanese fiscal year they can develop a fourteen meter turbine with the eventual end goal of creating a twenty five meter tuna shaped turbine. Suzuki Kiyomi believes that eventually they will reach a level in the development of the turbine project that a power plant could be placed in the open ocean with enough energy capacity to rival a nuclear power plant.

It is always interesting to watch Japan’s renewable energy development considering the space limitations they must contend with. Since they cannot use wind turbines or solar power farms to the same level as other nations, the sea is currently one of Japan’s greatest assets. The development of off shore turbines or projects like the tuna turbines shows that the nation is aware that the ocean must be a place they should expand if they hope to break any dependence on foreign oil. Since Nova Energy’s turbine project is currently enjoying some measure of success it will be interesting to see if Suzuki’s goal of an ocean power plant can be realized sometime in the future.