Japanese scientists have developed a new prototype wind turbine which they claim could transform storm energy into vast amounts of power, with a single typhoon offering enough potential energy to power the entire country for half a century.
It's fair to say that typhoons are associated with destruction and viewed with fear. However, if their vast energy could be harnessed, something good could at least come out of nature's storm power. And Japan is certainly home to them, having had six typhoons this year alone.
The new wind power device is shaped like an egg beater and is being tested under high-speed wind conditions as a functional prototype.
If successful, the new device could help to tackle Japan's chronic shortage of energy, which has been a key issue since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in 2011. Before the reactor's meltdown, it was assumed that nuclear power would be the country's dominant energy source of the future, but the government is now keen to move to more renewable sources.
Until now, it has invested only in European turbines which aren't designed with typhoons in mind, and they have tended to be destroyed in storms. Solar power has become the focus as a result, but this new turbine machine offers a technical innovation that allows the blades to adjust according to wind direction. This makes them suitable for operation in a storm, and the prototype is already working at 30pc efficiency.
The next step for the project is to test the prototype in an actual storm and ensure that it can stand up to the rigours of a full-blown storm. If it does, it could be a truly groundbreaking moment for renewable power.