A French energy firm has devised a tree-shaped wind turbine which it claims can operate silently.
The Wind Tree has been developed by NewWind, which will ‘plant’ a prototype in the Place de la Concorde, Paris, this March.
The company’s founder Jérôme Michaud-Larivière said: “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.”
The trees have 72 artificial leaves, each one a cone-shaped, vertical axis turbine. With little mass, they can generate power from a gentle breeze as slow as 2m/s (7km/h).
This means the Wind Tree could generate power, on average, for 280 days of the year, according to NewWind.
Total power output across all 72 ‘leaf’ turbines is estimated at 3.1 kW. Larger traditional turbines can produce considerably more power, but they need more wind to operate and therefore will work on fewer days of the year, said NewWind.
The Wind Tree is 11m tall and 8m in diameter, and is made of steel. Cables and generators are sealed inside the steel structure.
It can be plugged into the public grid, or used to supplement the power of individual buildings.
Each Wind Tree is expected to cost £23,100 (€29,500).
NewWind said that cities could install ‘groves’ of Wind Trees to harvest power. The design aims to avoid the public opposition that wind farms often cause.