Monstrous, noisy conventional wind turbines may soon be a thing of the past thanks to tree-shaped wind turbines being installed in Paris.
What started out as a concept is now being turned into reality, with several being planned for the French capital.
The French company ‘New Wind’ is installing the first at Place de la Concorde in Paris and is hoping to expand throughout the country and abroad.
The 26 foot (8 meter) trees are fitted with 63 aero leaves, each of which uses tiny blades inside the ‘leaves’ and can generate electricity in wind speeds as low as 4.5mph (7km/h), and regardless of the wind’s direction.
A light breeze is classified as having a wind speed of between 4 mph and 7 mph on the Beaufort Scale.
The company’s founder, Jérôme Michaud-Larivière, hopes the trees can be used to exploit small air currents flowing along buildings and streets, and could eventually be installed in people’s backgardens and urban centres.
The power output of the tree is 3.1 kilowatts a year depending on the wind.
The trees are also silent, so sound pollution would not be an issue – a major improvement from past designs.
The trees currently retail at £23,500 ($33,670).
Mr Michaud-Lariviere said the tree is profitable after winds of 7.8 mph (12.5 km/h) on average over one year.
He admits there are more consistent winds 160 foot in the air but they require ‘monstrous machines’, far from where energy is consumed, he added.
In the future Mr Michaud-Larivière hopes to develop a ‘perfect tree that has leaves with natural fibers, 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), said the potential of small wind turbines in the city remains ‘quite low’.
“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 marking the Wind Tree.
An average onshore wind turbine with a capacity can produce more than 6 million kWh in a year – enough to supply 1,500 average EU households with electricity