Harnessing the Wind and Tide in One Power Station
Kyle Maxey posted on May 20, 2013 |
power, energy, tidal, wind, green energy, sustainable, japan, ocean

According to MODEC, a Japanese engineering firm, the world’s first hybrid wind-current power generation plant will be installed off the coast of Japan later this year.

The new system, descriptively named the SKWID (Savonius Keel and Wind Turbine Darrieus), consists of three main parts. Standing above the water line is a Darrieus vertical-axis wind turbine. On the opposite end of the station, submerged in the water is a Savonius tidal turbine. Connecting these two systems is a central platform that’s home to a gearbox and generator which creates electricity from both the wind and tide that surround the platform.

What’s most remarkable about this system is its ability to use both wind and tidal inputs to generate power simultaneously.  According to a MODEC because of the Darrieus turbine’s design the SKWID can catch “twice as much wind when compared to the circular swept area of typical onshore wind turbines.” Couple that with a Savonius current turbine that can “harness any weak current” and is “harmless to the marine ecosystem” and you have one of the most sustainable, efficient, marine friendly power stations ever created.

Now some might wonder if placing a power station on the ocean’s turbulent surface is good idea. But before you start having visions of inverted SKWID units littering the worlds oceans know that MODEC has that problem covered. The platform structure that houses the heart of the station “supports the power generation assembly via a set of rubber mounts like a gimbal to isolate the power generation assembly from the wave motion.” To further tie the station into place the Savonius current turbine also acts like a ballast giving the SKWID self-righting capabilities.

Sometime next fall MODEC’s first SKWID unit will become operational. The company believes that each unit could generate enough power for about 300 households. Although that represents an impressive beginning MODEC’s SKWID units will have to demonstrate greater power generation if the technology is to scale effectively. Still, SKWIDs could be used to power facilities like oil platforms and small island communities with no problems whatsoever.

Images Courtesy of MODEC

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