It has been six months since devastating earthquakes rocked Japan and set off a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant that could take up to one hundred years to fully correct. It is amazing how much the nation has recovered in that very short time period — that link has many beautiful then and now photographs which show immense improvement.
The reason that Japan has relied so heavily on nuclear power is not a completely simple one but it has to do with the enormous cost of bringing outside power into the country — they do not have their own oil and so it must be brought in from other countries. Same deal with natural gas, coal, et al. Nuclear power currently provides the country with one third of its power and it is for this reason. However, this powerful earthquake and its effect on the view of the safety of nuclear power must be carefully considered.
The power of wind is mighty. The power that wind generates with wind turbines has not, historically, been nearly as mighty — due to the cost of turbines and maintenance and the output of the turbines, it ends up costing more than coal or nuclear power. This could very well change with a breakthrough made by Japanese scientists in the way that turbines are designed — significantly increasing electricity output from turbines:
After the damage caused by the Fukushima disaster, it only makes sense that Japan turn its resources to trying to find another efficient form of clean energy besides nuclear. Research into wind turbine development may have lead to a solution with stunning potential. Wind lenses, brims that go around the outside of a turbine’s blades, can double or even triple the turbine’s power output, bringing wind farms in line with the efficiency and output of nuclear power, without the danger of a meltdown.
The wind lens was developed at Kyushu University, where prototypes are already in use. The wind lense works by creating a pocket of low pressure in front of the turbine. As a result, air rushes to the low pressure point, conveniently enough, right through the turbine, increasing the speed of the turbine and ultimately, the amount of power that is put out.
Mind you, this does not mean that wind power is perfect. There are plenty of criticism of wind power out there if you look for them. I still believe that the worst case scenario for something bad happening to a wind power farm cannot compare with any number of bad scenarios that may occur to a nuclear power plant — such as the disaster in Japan. Will nuclear power be phased out in the future? Let us hope so.