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Source: OIST

New Turbines Catch Waves To Generate Power For Japan's Coasts

By Brian Spaen

Given the fact that Japan is surrounded by water, and is made up of four major islands, they've long held a practice of using tetrapods to keep the ocean from eroding their land. Tetrapods are concrete blocks, shaped similarly to pyramids, that stand up against massive waves common on Japan's coasts. In the age of renewable energy, however, people have recently thought up an important question: How can we use these naturally occurring waves to generate some energy? According to recent research, it's entirely possible to generate some green electricity from these powerful waves. 

Researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have found a way to compliment tetrapods with turbines that could pull this feat off. These turbines have five unique petal-like blades and resemble flowers. That's right: Flower-like energy turbines may be the key to powering coastal Japan without harming the environment. Of course, researchers have also put a lot of time into protecting the wildlife living in the ocean while designing these, as they don't want to move forward with a plan that would help the environment in one area, but harm it in another. 

These flower-like turbines, formally called Wave Energy Converters (WEC), are created from softer, flexible material. This means that when animals get in contact with the spinning blades, they won’t be injured. This also helps protect the turbine when harsher conditions arise. The flexible blades will be able to release any stress caused in those events.