Tree-shaped wind turbines are set to hit the streets of Paris in March in a bid to find a visually appealing alternative to traditional turbines.
The devices are the brainchild of French company NewWind. Dubbed the “wind tree”, each consists of 72 leaf-shaped turbines which, when all turning, can produce an average of 3.1 kW of power, 280 days of the year, enough to power 15 streetlights.
That falls short of traditional turbines that can generate 5-6 kW, but the wind trees can operate in a light breeze of 7 kph compared with the much stronger winds needed to drive larger turbines.
The company’s founder Jérôme Michaud-Larivière told Hexapolis: “The idea came to me in a square where I saw the leaves tremble when there was not a breath of air… [the energy] had to come from somewhere and be translatable into watts.”
Each Tree costs €29,500 ($35,000), but the trees could pay for themselves in a few years. The company envisages spreading the wind trees throughout Paris, or clustering them among real trees.
The prototype will be “planted” in the Place de la Concorde and the company copes to have them in full production by June 2016.
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
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