Japan has turned to the oceans to produce continuous, reliable, green energy. After years of development and real-world testing, the “Kairyu” (Seadragon?) underwater power generator will enter its commercial phase in the next decade.
Kairyu was a demonstrator designed to harness energy from undersea currents, which is different from tidal power generators. Undersea currents have a slower flow but might occur in a much larger area. It means more generators could be deployed, making the idea entirely scalable.
At a depth of 50 meters, the generator is also located in a safer location than tidal generators. Japan is hit by a significant number of typhoons every year, and they can generate massive waves that could put generators at risk.
Depth and orientation are maintained by a controlled buoyancy and turbine blades that make it easy and low energy to keep steady or come to the surface for repairs and maintenance.
Any undersea project is fraught with challenges as the oceans remain a harsh place for hardware. However, the tests showed this project and strategy could be one of the most cost-efficient, reliable, and scalable ways to harness clean energy.
It is much more efficient than wind energy and would be immensely less intermittent than solar. Japan isn’t an ideal place for solar energy anyway, and tidal generators are difficult to deploy because there are so many naval activities around Japan. Ultimately, these challenges have led Japanese researchers to create a considerably better opportunity.
Geek out with all the details from this IHI PDF document.