Japanese inventor's typhoon turbines harness storms' energy

It certainly doesn't look like your ordinary wind turbine.


A Japanese engineer named Atsushi Shimizu has designed a new type of wind turbine that can harness energy from something more powerful than a strong breeze. Shimizu's creation, which looks like a huge, upright egg beater, can withstand typhoons (or hurricanes, depending on where you live) and turn their destructive power into usable energy. Unlike ordinary turbines, it can stay standing even when assaulted by intense winds and rain, thanks to an omnidirectional vertical axis and blades with adjustable speeds. That makes them perfect for their creator's home country, as well as other places frequently visited by storms, such as China, the Philippines and the US.

Shimizu says the energy from a single typhoon can power Japan for 50 years, and with the help of his turbines, the country could become a "super power of wind." Even if his creation can capture all that energy, though, it will likely be tough finding a way to store 50 years' worth of power at this point in time. We might not have the battery tech capable of that just yet. Shimizu's company installed a prototype earlier this year in Okinawa, and it's now gunning to build one either on the Tokyo Tower or at Japan's National Stadium, where the Olympics will be held in 2020.