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Department of Mathematical Sciences

Seminar Archives

On this page you can find information about seminars in this and previous academic years, where available on the database.

Numerical Analysis Seminars: The Kuroshio Power Plant

Presented by Falin Chen, National Taiwan University

14 August 2013 14:00 in CM107

The earth's three great oceans feature many perennial and stable currents encompassing tremendous amounts of kinetic energy. This energy, if properly captured, could make an important contribution to human civilization and sustainable development. The Kuroshio, a branch of the North Pacific Gyre, shows particular promise in this regard. It flows particularly strong along the eastern coast of Taiwan and then follows a stable course to pass the Ryukyu Islands and Japan. From the perspective of energy development, the Kuroshio is a high-quality ocean current, able to provide a steady and high-volume power output needed to achieve economies of scale and commercial value. The Kuroshio power plant has many competitive advantages. It has environmental advantages in that it causes no carbon emissions, pollution or waste. It is completely renewable requiring no fuel. It offers a continuous power supply with a capacity factor greater than 0.7, considerably superior to most currently available renewable energy sources. In terms of technical advantage, the power plant construction can be accomplished with existing technologies and mature engineering processes, thus avoiding potential technological bottlenecks. In terms of cost advantages, it is estimated that, once technical development costs are accounted for, construction and operation costs will be competitive with off-shore wind power.

This talk will present a new design for the Kuroshio power plant. The deployment of hundreds of turbines in deep waters, anchored in a stable formation to the seabed hundreds of meters below is an unprecedented engineering feat, entailing new approaches to turbine design, anchorage system planning, deep sea marine engineering, and power plant operations and maintenance. The present design has many advantages. Mainly, the single-cable used to anchor the turbine to the platform is short, thus minimizing the amplitude of the fuselage's drift with the current. In addition, the multi-cable anchorage design for the relay platform can protect from earthquake damage, and the power plant's flexible structure can effectively prevent damage from high-frequency fatigue. However, the design also includes some drawbacks: The new design increases uncertainty, the structure flexibility reduces overall turbine efficiency, and deep-sea construction is extremely challenging.

Since the proposed Kuroshio power plant is a new design and requires deep sea construction, it entails high research costs and construction risks during the development stage. Therefore, initial development and construction must be conducted with extreme caution to methodically explore and resolve all potential problems. Only once all potential issues are resolved can the machinery be committed and underwater construction be commenced.

Contact David.Bourne@durham.ac.uk for more information