Although much has been reported recently about countries such as China and Denmark spearheading clean energy while the United States continues to muddle along, confused about the future, Japan is quietly taking the lead in harnessing the power of the ocean to provide for the country’s future energy needs.
Specifically, according to Yomiuri Shimbun, tests are underway in Japan to generate electricity through the power of waves, wind, ocean thermal energy conversion, and other oceanic sources of natural energy.
The country’s first wave power plant, approved in November 2016, is located in Iwate Prefecture and currently generates 43 kilowatts of energy, enough to supply the daily needs of 10 households, powering appliances such as refrigerators at a nearby fishing port. Although this wave power plant, which is powered by huge metal plates swinging back and forth in the water, is rather small, there are plans in place to deliver plants with larger outputs throughout the country.
Further, wind energy is also being harnessed as part of a floating offshore wind turbine project in Fukushima Prefecture. Wind energy is a terrific idea on the high seas, since nothing exists that would block the power of the wind, and thus, installing turbines in the ocean appears to be an efficient way of generating natural energy, though environmental impact and costs are being assessed for such projects.
Finally, Japan is a world leader in ocean thermal energy conversion, a technology that takes advantage of the temperate difference between deep-sea water and surface water to generate energy. Specifically, warm surface water is used to evaporate volatile fluids such as ammonia, and this expanding volume of vapor creates pressure that rotates a turbine generator. Then, cooler water that has been pumped up from lower depths cools the vapor and turns it back into fluid, helping to generate up to 50 kilowatts of electricity.
According to Professor Tsumoru Shintake of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, “the ocean has great potential to create various types of energy.” Indeed, it appears the both the national and local governments are doubling down on various forms of natural energy creation in order to supply the country’s future energy needs. I look forward to a future in which we use the abundant power of the ocean to generate clean energy for all humanity, thus eliminating the need for filthy, toxic, and outdated forms of energy that would doom all mankind to a future not worth living.