Generate electricity on trees with wind power

A French team of engineers has developed an artificial tree that
can generate electricity using the wind. An artificial ‘wind tree’ has been
created to generate electricity from even the slightest flow of air. Mr. Jérôme
Michaud-Larivière, founder of the Paris-based start-up NewWind, has created
Tree Wind and plans to market the invention next year. ‘The idea came to me in
a square where I saw the leaves tremble when there was not a breath of air,’ he
said.

Innovative: It uses tiny blades housed in the ‘leaves’ that turn
in the wind – regardless of its direction.
The eight-meter high (25ft) tree consists of a steel trunk, from
which extend branches holding 100 plastic ‘leaves’, AFP reports. He added the
energy ‘had to come from somewhere and be translatable into watts’. It uses
tiny blades housed in the ‘leaves’ that turn in the wind – regardless of its
direction – and has the added advantage of being completely silent.


After three years of research, the team of engineers developed a
26ft prototype, which is now installed in the Pleumeur-Bodou commune in
Brittany in northwestern France. He hopes they can eventually be used in
people’s own homes and in urban centres. The tree, which will sell for £23,500,
can reportedly generate electricity on twice the number of days as a
conventional wind turbine because it can generate power on winds of just
4.5mph. Mr. Michaud-Lariviere said the tree – which has not yet been tested by
an independent laboratory – is profitable after winds of 7.8mph on average over
one year.


He hopes the tree can be used to exploit small ‘deposits’ of air
currents flowing into town along the buildings and streets to feed, for
example, LED street lamps, or a charging station for electrical cars. He admits
there are more consistent winds 160ft in the air but they require ‘monstrous
machines’, far from where energy is consumed, he added. He hopes the tree can
be combined with other means of power generation such as photovoltaic, and
geothermal, combined with energy-efficient buildings.

In the future Mr. Michaud-Larivière hopes to develop a ‘perfect
tree that has leaves with natural fibres, roots that could generate geothermal
energy and ‘bark’ covered with photosensitive cells. However, Robert Bellini an
engineering expert at the Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME),
says the potential of small wind turbines in the city remains ‘quite low’.

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