Paris-based start up NewWind R&D has built a prototype of a wind turbine that emulates a tree. The design allows for even the lightest wind to be utilized.
The Wind Tree is a 36-foot-tall structure, comprised of a steel trunk and branches with 100 leaf-like plastic devices on them that act as miniature turbines. Due to tiny blades located within the structure of the leaves, they rotate even with the lightest of breezes, powering small generators in each of them.
Creator Jérôme Michaud-Larivière says,
“The main advantage of our technology is that it works with a very small input of energy, so it will work with 2 meters per second of wind, whereas other machines need 4 or 5 meters per second to get going. This means that we can produce energy over more days of the year.”
The tree fits well in an urban context. It doesn’t require a building permit. It can harness all types of wind in a 360 degrees radius — turbulences, vortexes, drays, and other wind phenomena. Its design is easy on the eyes — everything is integrated in the branches and trunks; there are no visible cables or generators. Another big advantage is that it doesn’t produce any noise. The Wind Tree is also durable — it can withstand wind class 3 storms, and even if a leaf breaks, the rest continue to work unaffected.
At $37,000, the price tag is certainly high, but the company says the tree pays itself off in two years and is powerful enough to ensure the electrical autonomy of a family of four. The start-up is looking into options that allow the mini-turbines to be installed on rooftops, in case the customers are not to keen on “planting” a Wind Tree in their backyards.
New Wind will begin marketing the tree in 2015, starting with a prototype on display at the Place de la Concorde in Paris this March. The company hopes to begin mass production by early 2016.
Photos: New Wind