Could hurricanes be the answer to our energy problems?

Hurricanes don't have to be a disruptive thing. They can be a source of tremendous energy. How? Let's see!
Interesting Engineering

Hurricanes are huge destructive forces of nature. It can greatly devastate any location that is situated in its path. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina left several cities and states in the U.S. with damages up to hundred and eight billion dollars, making it into the list of the costliest and most damaging hurricanes in history. 

Fueled by warm ocean waters, hurricanes bring powerful winds alongside heavy rainfall and thunderstorms. The Atlantic hurricane season in 2021 brought eleven hurricanes with winds of at least 74 mph (119 kph).

With that said, one might ask: “How powerful are hurricanes?”

A hurricane passing by will definitely cancel the day and leave a lot of damage behind.  Depending on the level or category type, affected places can experience a lot, from moderate rainfalls to winds powerful enough to uproot some trees.

If compared with a nuclear bomb, NASA states that the average hurricane can create energy that is equivalent to the explosion of 10,000 nuclear bombs!

With such power and energy, another question arises: “ Can this be used to power up cities?”

The answer is a definite yes. The Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory stated that the energy generated by a typical hurricane is 1.5 terawatts, and that is just for the wind. Hurricanes also release energy through clouds and rain, which amounts to 600 terawatts, which is more than enough!

That amount is already equivalent to 200 times the worldwide electrical generating capacity, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hurricane expert Christopher Landsea.

The only remaining question, or problem, is how? 

Hurricanes are very powerful, and the amount of energy they can produce would definitely be useful. However, the forces are so intense that it actually destroys the structures that were actually made for harnessing energy from the wind. 

Wind turbines need to have a solid foundation that can withstand the destructive nature of hurricanes while performing their purpose of harnessing energy from the powerful wind blasts it brings. 

Scientists and engineers around the world are working on ways to make this happen.

The founder of Japanese energy firm Challenergy, Atsushi Shimizu, built a streamlined design for turbines with vertical blades situated in the upper and lower platforms to withstand storms in Japan. 

Although there are more things needed to achieve this goal, the world is hopeful that we will be able to harness energy from hurricanes in the near future. After all,  a hurricane wouldn't be renowned for its power if it wasn't difficult to harness the enormous quantity of energy it produces.