Electricity Now Grows On Trees — Scientists Unveil Cool Prototype For ‘Wind Tree’ [Video]

Back in the 90s, power companies started to invest in other forms of energy harvesting to be more independent from both oil and coal. For some parts of Southern California, they get a supplemental amount of their power from the huge windmill farm which can be seen driving along Interstate 10. Las Vegas, Nevada, gets a large portion of their power from the Hoover Dam. Despite the benefits clean energy provides, its potential has always been limited because the technology was limited.

Now more than two decades later, clean energy has made leaps and bounds. The Inquisitr reported on such improvements, particularly with solar panels. One such discovery was back in 2012 when a researcher at the Minnesota Institute of Technology (MIT) found a way to turn plants into solar panels. Such a find may need to be utilized because two years later, it was said that the switch to solar energy is a necessity more so than ever before.

However, there may be a new interest in wind energy again, as a start-up found a way to make wind energy harvesting beautiful and sufficient. They are doing this by inventing a “wind tree.”

According to the latest article on the invention by Green Building Elements, it reports that NewWind, a French start-up, designed the wind tree to look like a tree with almost a hundred mini-windmills on it. Due to its light construction, the wind tree generates power at wind speeds as low as 4.4 miles per hour. That means the wind tree can generate power from someone blowing air at it. Therefore, the sustained operation time of the wind tree is an average of 320 days a year, almost double of standard windmills that need higher wind speeds. However, the total output for the tree is about 3.1 kilowatts, substantially lower than standard windmills. The wind tree makes up this flaw by being usable almost anywhere (taking into account 4.4 miles per hour is not that fast).

Jérôme Michaud-Larivière, the founder of NewWind, came up with the idea of the wind tree watching leaves in a tree sway on a windless day.

“On a windless day I watched the leaves driven by an invisible force that moved by indeed the slightest air simmer [sic]. I wondered how many watts it could do. And if we collected the energy of the earthquake on the basis of the phenomenon? Multiplied by as many sheets as a tree has, what power would give [sic]? The Wind Tree was born.”

Each tree — which is about 36 feet tall, 26 feet wide, and made entirely of steel — costs about $36,500. The payback, however, is fast, especially if one were to “plant groves.” NewWind plans to test this by “planting groves” in Paris, France, this coming March.

If you want to learn more about the wind trees or NewWind, the start-up behind the cool clean energy invention, Haaretz provided a video for your viewing, attached below.

Now that you’ve read the news on NewWind’s wind tree, what are your opinions? Do you think it is an interestingly cool way to provide supplemental energy for cities and towns?

[Image via NewWind]