It is known that trees produce oxygen. What we did not expect is that they can be used to produce energy too. This is the idea of NewWind, a French start-up that designed a new wind turbine in the form of a tree. Here at Urnabios we love trees (even when they are made of steel), so we decided to talk about this simple but fascinating idea.
The name of this new tree species is “WindTree” or using the original French name “Arbre à vent”.
These trees will “grow” in urban environments. The first ones will blossom in March in Paris. Traditional turbines are often accused to spoil the landscape. Trees, instead, are one of the many expressions of beauty that nature offers us. Thus, the idea to create a turbine with a natural eye-catching form: a tree.
The founder, Jérôme Michaud-Larivière, had the idea some years ago while observing a real tree. He saw the leaves on a tree moving in the wind and started thinking how to transform that kinetic energy into electricity.
The Wind Tree also faces other problems caused by traditional wind turbines. Beside the aesthetic issues, wind turbines are often accused to take up too much space and to be noise polluters. Both these problems are solved with Wind Tree. A Wind Tree is 11 metres (36 feet) high and 8 metres (26 feet) wide, rather small in comparison with a traditional turbine (36 metres tall). The Wind Tree has 72 artificial leaves that rotate when the wind blows and produce energy. It seems that they are not noisier than a traditional tree. These “Arbres à vent” produce less energy than a traditional turbine but they are able to work more days per year (on average 280 days) because they need just a small air current to be activated (around 2 meters per second). As a whole, the tree can produce around 3,1 kW.
Each tree costs around 30.000 Euros but the society guarantees that they pay themselves back in a couple of years. Besides, these trees are almost as strong as real trees: they are supposed to last more than 25 years.
If people would like these new trees, other will blossom in spring, and mass production will start in June 2016.
Wouldn’t you love to see these trees in the parks of our cities together with real ones, like contemporary useful works of art?