Wind turbines have been plugged as a great sustainable energy choice but complaints continue to weigh against their favour; they’re ugly, noisy, and dangerous to birds.
A French startup has now proposed a design for an ‘Arbre à Vent’ or Wind Tree, bringing a new and more aesthetically pleasing version of the turbine into towns and cities. Jérôme Michaud-Larivière, the entrepreneur behind the concept and founder of the company NewWind, described the ‘Arbre à Vent’ as a tree-shaped instalment, with built-in leaf-shaped mini-turbines.
“The main advantage of our technology is that it works with a very small input of energy and turbulent energy,” says Michaud-Larivière. He added that the mini-turbines can even produce energy when the wind is blowing at just two metres per second, as opposed to the four to five metres per second needed by traditional wind turbines.
The cables from the ‘Arbres à Vent’, manufactured by NewWind Energy Solutions, can connect to the national grid, as well as to individual buildings.
The mini-turbines work like standard turbine technology with the blades catching the wind, spinning a shaft which connects to a generator to produce electricity. The structure is 11 metres tall and sprouts 72 mini-turbine ‘leaves’, rotating around a vertical axis. The output of the ‘Arbre à Vent’ is measured at 3.1kW, according to Gizmag.
The French startup argues that its design will blend into urban environments and a prototype will be displayed and tested in the Place de la Concorde on the Champs-Élysées in Paris from March 15th to 17th – reportedly the first area in Paris to have electrical lighting in 1844.
Each of the ‘Arbres’ will cost a city around $37,000 (approx. £24,000) to run. NewWind insists that within two years the technology should pay for itself and that it hopes to start mass producing the ‘trees’ by early 2016.