Renewable energy innovators are exploring inventive approaches to incorporate green energy into our homes – a unique solution to this challenge comes in the form of ‘wind trees’, a micro wind turbine designed to mimic trees. Luc Eric Krief, the owner of New World Wind, the French firm pioneering the ‘Aeroleaf’ technology, notes, “as it is biomorphic, individuals may not immediately recognize it as a renewable system.”
These metallic ‘trees’ boast branches adorned with micro wind turbines that imitate leaves. Krief adds, “there is no visual pollution, and we can install a bench around the tree for people to sit on,” underscoring the ability to customise the colours of both the trunk and leaves.
However, the turbines’ visual appeal is not their sole benefit. Ranging from 5 to 10 meters in height, these trees offer a compact design, facilitating effortless installation even in urban settings without the need for extensive engineering work. Once in position, a single bracket and 3 bolts suffice to complete the construction.
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Their size also mitigates challenges faced by larger turbines, such as bird collisions and operates in silence. Instead of connecting to the national grid, these turbines directly supply energy to a building’s existing electrical system through a concept known as self-consumption.
Krief plans to unveil a new design in January 2024 that triples the Aeroleaf’s power production. A single leaf is poised to generate up to 1,000 kilowatt-hours per year, enabling the 36-leaf WindTree to reach a maximum annual output of 36,000 kWh at a wind speed of 12 meters per second (m/s).
Under typical conditions of 8 m/s, one WindTree could yield almost 18,000 kWh per year, sufficient to power a 4-person household and cut annual CO2 emissions by over 12 tonnes.
Comparatively, a 4 kW solar power system on an average-sized house typically produces around 3,000 kWh of electricity per year, according to Project Solar UK.
The key to the micro turbines’ remarkable output lies in their continuous operation. Krief explains, “solar panels can work between 10 am and 4 pm… with our technology, we can provide energy seven days a week, 24 hours a day.” Excess energy can be stored in the battery, which boasts a 60Ah capacity, lasting around 45 minutes to one hour in normal conditions. Each tree incorporates 4 batteries.
Despite offering greater energy output than solar panels, micro wind turbines come at a higher cost. A single Aeroleaf is priced at €795, a 36-leaf wind tree at €51,990 and a hybrid solar WindBush with 12 leaves at €24,500.
As New World Wind expands, with plans to venture into the Americas and leverage the US’ Inflation Reduction Act, wind trees could become a more prevalent sight on streets and in gardens globally.