Now electricity really could grow on trees! Scientists unveil prototype ‘wind tree’ that uses turbines hidden inside plastic leaves to create power

image

•The ‘Wind Green energy: A French start-up
has developed a ‘Wind Tree’ that
generates power from air
currents
Tree’ uses tiny
blades housed in the ‘leaves’
that turn in breezes

•Developers hope they can be
used in people’s homes and
city centres

•They claim the tree is less
obtrusive and more viable
than wind turbines

A French team of engineers has
developed an artificial tree that
can generate electricity using the
wind.

‘The idea came to me in a square
where I saw the leaves tremble
when there was not a breath of
air,’ said Jérôme Michaud-Larivière,
the founder of the Parisian start-
up which will market the Wind
Tree in 2015.

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.

Green energy: A French start-up
has developed a ‘Wind Tree’ that
generates power from air
currents

Innovative: It uses tiny blades
housed in the ‘leaves’ that turn in
the wind – regardless of its
direction

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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