You've most likely heard one of the arguments
leveled at wind power: turbines are ugly.
And while you might not agree,
it's true that the tall turbines that are increasingly
appearing all over the landscape
stand out among their surroundings.
Power-generating "wind trees"
are designed to blend into both urban and rural environments.
Photo credit: New Wind
French entrepreneur Jérôme Michaud-Larivière decided to do something about that.
His company New Wind has created the "Arbre à Vent" or "wind tree," to tackle the issue of what they refer to as,
The 26 x 36 foot tree features 72 "leaves" that act as miniature silent turbines with integrated generators, each producing a small amount of electrical power.
Because the leaves are small and light, they are set in motion by winds as light as 4.4 miles per hour, capturing light winds that large vertical turbines can't and potentially producing power as many as 280 days a year.
And while each tree produces only 3.1 kilowatts of power, a streetscape lined with them could power all the nearby streetlights or a small apartment building.
The trees are designed and constructed to be durable, reliable and lasting in a variety of outdoor conditions. The generators connected to the leaves are sealed in protective casing, and the unit is designed so that if one leaf breaks down, the others will still function.
The trees won't fool anyone into thinking they are real but they could easily pass as a piece of outdoor sculpture.
Prototypes have been installed on several private properties, with a demonstrator tree to be installed in Paris on the Place de la Concorde this coming May.
They're expected to cost about $36,500 a piece.
Also on the drawing board is "foliage" that can be installed on rooftops and balconies and along roadsides to power variable-message signs. A scaled-down "wind bush" is also in the works.