A Japanese research team has developed a nature-inspired turbine that harnesses the power of the sea.

The blades are like ‘dolphin fins’, flexible rather than rigid, designed to perform in strong currents. Professor Tsumoru Shintake, who is leading the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) project, said the structure around it is “like a flower,” and “bends back against the wind.”

Professor Shintake and his team envision the tech peppering coastlines and supplying clean energy via cables attached the turbines.

“Using just 1% of the seashore of mainland Japan can [generate] about 10 gigawats [of energy], which is equivalent to 10 nuclear power plants,” Professor Shintake said.

The next stage for the Wave Energy Converter (WEC) initiative is to test half-scale models of the turbine in what will be its ‘first commercial experiment’.

Credit: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), Professor Tsumoru Shintake