World’s Largest Solar Project and Floating Wind Turbine Signal Global Shift to Renewable Energy

Two new eye-popping structures have joined the rapidly growing renewable energy sector. First, Japan has just finished installation of the world’s largest floating wind turbine. Secondly, China has kicked off construction of the world’s largest solar power plant. Efforts from the respective countries make it clear that the global shift from nuclear and fossil fuels is well under way.

Japan’s 7 megawatt Offshore Hydraulic Drive Turbine stands at 344 feet (about 40 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty) and features three 262 feet-long blades and a rotor diameter of 538 feet. Significantly, the structure is located about 12 miles off the coast of Fukushima, an area infamously wrecked in 2011 by a powerful earthquake and tsunami that caused a catastrophic meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The project is built and operated by the Fukushima Wind Offshore Consortium, which has already installed a 2 megawatt wind turbine in November 2013. The organization boasts that their structures can shoulder the brunt of extreme weather. (Inclement weather was certainly a problem during construction of the massive turbine, as engineers had to stall installation four times due to typhoons).

“These turbines and anchors are designed to withstand 65-foot waves,” Katsunobu Shimizu, one of the chief engineers, told NBC News. “Also, here we can get 32-foot-tall tsunamis. That’s why the chains are deliberately slackened,” in reference to the loose chains that connect the structure to the seabed and fortify it against large waves. The turbine is also fastened to the seabed by four 20-ton anchors, UPI reported.

As EcoWatch mentioned previously, there are plans to add a third floating turbine with a generating capacity of 5 megawatts later in the year, which will bring the total output capacity of the project to 14 megawatts. The $401 million project is led by Marubeni Co. and funded by the Japanese government with research and support from several public and private organizations.

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