Researchers harness power of the sea

ELECTRIC DREAM::Chen Yang-yi hopes the project will generate 1 gigawatt daily by 2020, which would help accomplish the goal of a ‘nuclear-power-free homeland’

By Hung Ting-hung and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Mon, Aug 29, 2016 - Page 1

National Sun Yat-sen University professor Chen Yang-yi’s (陳陽益) dream of using the Kuroshio Current to generate electricity has been proved viable after seven years of testing, and Chen hopes that by 2020 the project would be able to produce 1 gigawatt (GW) of electricity per day.

Chen’s research team said that it reported the results to Premier Lin Chuan (林全) on Saturday.

According to Chen, the Kuroshio Power Plant Development Project late last month successfully deployed a floating platform anchored to a sunken ship, the first such platform in Taiwan and the first system to test the viability of power generation by ocean currents.

The project was the first to turn on low-speed generators submerged in water currents flowing at 0.45m per second, Chen said, adding that the generators were kept running for 60 hours.

The team first used tugboats off Pingtung County’s Siaoliouciou Island (小琉球) last year to tow their third generator through ocean currents at a speed of 1.43m per second, Chen said, adding that average power generation was 32.57 kilowatts (kW).

That was the first time a research team towed a generator to simulate ocean current speeds and generated power, Chen said.

On July 23, the team deployed a multipurpose platform 25km southeast of Oluanpi (鵝鑾鼻), which it anchored to a foundation 900m deep converted from an abandoned ship, Chen said.

From July 25 to July 29, the team ran consecutive tests as the Kuroshio Current flowed past the platform at a depth of 30m, with currents traveling at 1.27m per second, generating an average of 26.31kW, he said.

“It was a successful trial,” Chen said.

The team plans to move to Jioupeng Bay (九鵬灣) in Pingtung next year for a trial run, which it hopes will generate 2 megawatts for commercial operations, Chen said

If the test results are positive, the system could become a replacement for the Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant, as it is projected to be able to generate 1GW by 2020, which would move the nation one step closer to the government’s goal of a “nuclear-power-free homeland.”

While many nations have been attempting to use sea currents to generate power, most are still at the design stage and none have had a successful trial, he said.

According to Chen, Japan last year demonstrated a sea current generation system, but said that it would not conduct live trials until 2020, meaning that Taiwan’s research has surpassed that of other nations.

Chen, who served as president of the university’s College of Marine Science, launched the Kuroshio Current power generation research project in 2009 in collaboration with research teams from the National Applied Research Laboratories and National Cheng Kung University’s Tainan Hydraulics Laboratory.

The team also collaborates with Wanchi Steel Industrial Co (萬機鋼鐵) on technological matters.