Very soon, we might witness our streets and garden lined up with electricity producing trees. Unbelievable but true. Couple of French engineers have designed an artificial tree that uses wind energy to produce electricity. The electricity producing, Wind Tree will be available in the market by 2015. Founder of start-up Parisian, Jerome Michaud-Lariviere says that he came up with the idea of wind tree when he saw leaves quivering in the absence of air currents, which means energy is coming from somewhere and it possible can be morphed into watts.
Engineers took 3 years to create its first 26ft prototype, which has been positioned in the Pleumeur-Bodou community in Brittany in northwestern France. The innovative wind trees have tiny blades placed in the leaves that are responsible for moving the wind, irrespective of the wind’s direction. Moreover, this process is completely silent and so can be used for domestic power supply as well as in urban centers.
According to the team, the tree can supply electricity on air currents of mere 4.5mph and hence can produce electricity on twice the number of days as a usual wind turbine. The estimated cost of the wind tree is £23,500. Though the wind tree is yet to be tested by an independent laboratory, Mr Michaud-Lariviere says that the tree on average is cost effective after the air currents of 7.8mph on over a span of one year.
Electricity on trees
In the future, Mr Michaud-Lariviere see these innovative tree harnessing air currents that flow into the city, across streets and buildings and will supply electricity to power LED street lights or a charging station for electric vehicles. He also acknowledges that at a height of 160ft consistent air currents are available, but to exploit those, giant machines would be required and to be placed, far from the site of actual energy consumption.
He also plans to integrate the tree with other sources of power generation as geothermal, photovoltaic, combined with buildings that are energy efficient. He also has plans to design a perfect tree, one with leaves consisting of natural fibers, photosensitive cells covering the bark and roots capable of producing geothermal energy.
However, as per an engineering expert, Robert Bellini at the Environment and Energy Management Agency, the scope of such small sized wind turbines in the town remains quite low.
Well, the wind tree is little expensive, but I feel it’s a great idea to place them along the streets and parks to generate electricity especially in remote areas where power supply is scant. Idea technically seems feasible and design is aesthetically pleasing, however, I am apprehensive regarding the maintenance issues. Let’s wait and watch.