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Scientists Explore Floating 'Eco-Rigs' as Power Source for J

Scientists Explore Floating 'Eco-Rigs' as Power Source for J

Scientists in Japan are exploring the use of huge clean-tech generators that would float at sea as a power source for the country, Japan's leading daily newspaper reported.

The at-sea generators, dubbed eco-rigs, would be environmentally friendly, giant power plants that are a home to photovoltaic generators and turbines — and could generate as much power as a nuclear facility, said the Yomiuri Shimbun quoting scientists at Kyushu University.

The eco-rigs, which would be about 2 kilometers by 800 meters (1.2 miles by just under a half mile) and each would generate about 300 megawatts of electricity. The cost-to-power generation rate for a rig is estimated at 70,000 yen to 140,000 yen (about $656 to $1312 in U.S. dollars) per kilowatt compared with about 200,000 yen (about $1873 U.S.) per kilowatt for constructing a nuclear power plant.

The eco-rigs could be a solution to high energy costs, scant fossil fuel resources and diminishing fish stocks that have plagued Japan. In addition to generating power, the rigs would be outfitted with light-emitting diodes that would allow the at-sea generators to also serve as seaweed nurseries, stimulating the fish food chain. The LEDs would shine into the sea to promote seaweed growth, and the seaweed would absorb carbon dioxide and attract fish and plankton.

The research team at Kyushu University told the Yomiuri Shimbun that they began testing a floating base for a generator in July and that they plan to test a model of a generating plant. The group estimated it would take about three years to produce the real thing.

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