Japan to Harness Hydro-Energy in Maldives

Ministry of Environment and Energy has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), and Kokyo Tatemono Company Limited, Japan, to conduct a hydro-energy project in the Maldives.

OIST and Kokyo will collaborate with Maldives to test Wave Energy Converter Units (WEC-units) prototype in the Maldives to supply sustainable energy and reduce carbon emissions. The project will be conducted with assistance from Environment Ministry and Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma.

The WEC-units prototype was designed by the leader of Quantum Wave Microscopy Unit, OIST, Professor Tsumoru Shintake and his colleagues. The prototype can capture energy from waves and convert it into electricity.

Two half-scaled WEC-units prototypes with 0.35 meter diameter turbines will be installed about 50 meters offshore in Kandooma Island, as part of the project. The location is ideal for the prototype installation as surfers and divers do not utilize the area, allowing for safe installation of the high-tension duralumin prototype blades which are not a flexible design yet.

Professor Shintake stated that Maldives is ideal for testing the Wave Energy Converters because Maldives needs new ways to generate electricity. He noted that Maldives has a vested interest in finding renewable energy sources and to reduce carbon emission, and that the country’s location makes it a suitable place for the project.

Professor Shintake noted how Maldives might be influenced by global warming, as a low-lying island nation.

“The Maldives is a symbol of global climate change,” he stated.

Professor Shintake stated that since the Maldives is not a hurricane or typhoon region, the WEC-units will not be in danger of damage by weather conditions.

The prototypes are being shipped to the Maldives and is expected to be installed in April. The wave energy generation will be monitored by researchers from the power house in Kandooma, as well as Japan with the use of web cameras.

After the initial trial, two full-scaled prototype models with 0.7 meter diameter turbines will be installed in September, 2018. The project aims to diffuse full-scale production models of WEC-units in the Maldives in the long run. If the project is successful, it would change the way Maldives produces and distributes electricity to the islands, taking the island nation one step closer to a future of renewable energy.

The Wave Energy Project was launched in 2013. The WEC-units blade design and material take inspiration from dolphin fins while the flexible posts draw inspiration from flower stems. The unique design is built to withstand the force of waves, and are deemed safe for the marine life.