A tree made of little turbines could be the answer to generating pockets of off-the-grid energy for urban parks and shopping centers.
French firm New Wind has designed and built the “Wind Tree” as an unobtrusive and aesthetically pleasing way to introduce wind power into the city environment. The biomimetic design consists of a smooth trunk and several branches of whirling turbines. The individual turbines, painted green and dubbed “aeroleafs,” are vertical microgenerators that spin when blown on from any direction. According to New Wind, the aeroleaf produces no noise and no wind shear.
The trunk of the tree is smooth and houses all of the electronics and, reportedly, requires no permit to build, making it easy to integrate into city settings. Jérôme Michaud-Larivière has said that he sees the Wind Tree project as both public art and the civic infrastructure of the future.
Web Urbanist reports that a prototype has been installed in Paris and quotes New Wind as saying, “With 72 artificial leaves serving as micro-turbines spinning on a vertical axis, the Wind Tree is designed to harness more gentle winds. The developers say this can extend to breezes blowing as slowly as two meters per second, making the turbine useful across more than 280 days of the year. Its power output is calculated at 3.1 kilowatts.”
At just 3.1 kW, the Wind Tree isn’t going to revolutionize the wind industry (offshore wind farms already achieved that last year), but they could be used to power public spaces such as gardens, parks, shopping centers and maybe one day charging stations for electronic vehicles. With enough interest from investors, New Wind has said that it could boost the Wind Tree’s electricity output by installing solar panels on its trunk and branches.
The company states that a single Wind Tree costs about $35,000 (American), is projected to last 25 years and can withstand storms of up to Class 3 levels.