In May, Okinawa Science and Technology Graduate School University (OIST, Onna village) will begin experiments to introduce wave energy to the Maldives Islands in the Indian Ocean. They are aiming for practical application of wave energy and hopes for its’ utilization on islands that depend on fossil fuel for power generation. They are looking into future possibilities of introducing this wave energy to Okinawa and Professor Shintake of OIST, conductor of the experiments said, "I want to develop wave energy power generation in the Maldives and then bring it back to Okinawa."
Wave energy generates electricity by turning blades with the energy of surf waves hitting the shore-line. In an area where there are waves, it can generate electricity regardless of day or night. OIST is carrying out experiments on the Island of Kandooma in the Maldives, where there is a continuous current of waves from the South Pole. The area has no occurrences of typhoons or hurricanes and experiments can be carried out with minimum damage to the Wave Energy Converters (WEC)-units.
While the Maldives need a lot of electricity at hotel facilities etc., the development of large power plants and power distribution networks between the islands have not progressed. Each island covers its’ electricity by fossil fuel power generation such as diesel generators, and there is great interest in renewable energy sources including wave energy. In February this year, OIST, the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MEE) of the Republic of Maldives, and Kokyo Tatemono Company Limited (President and CEO Kouhei Yamashita of Tokyo) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the start of the experiment.
The experiment will first introduce half-scaled WEC-unit prototypes and install two units approximately 50 meters offshore from the southeast coast of Kandooma Island. They will connect a power meter to the Internet so that they will be able to monitor the generated electricity from Okinawa. Full-scaled WEC-units will be set up in October and they will continue to investigate the amount of electricity generated.
Professor Shintake said, "The experiment is the first step toward practical application of wave energy. The utilization of wave energy will lead to the reduction of carbon dioxide and the securing of energy sources. We want to establish the technology so that they will be able to withstand typhoons, hence be of use even in Okinawa and other areas in Japan, ".