‘Wind Tree’ with micro turbines for green energy in tight urban spaces

WindPalm Wind Tree Hybrid
A hybrid Wind Tree in Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg, harnesses both wind and solar power with its leaf-shaped turbines and solar petals. Images courtesy New World Wind

In the quest for sustainable energy solutions, innovative designs are constantly being developed to address the challenges of urban environments. One such innovation is the WindPalm, a nature-inspired “wind tree” that utilizes micro wind turbines to generate renewable energy. This system, along with similar designs like the WindTree, is a product of New World Wind, a French company led by Luc Eric Krief.

The WindPalm is a tree-shaped structure composed of 3 to 5 steel trunks and branches, on which 18 to 30 leaf-shaped wind turbines are mounted. This design allows the turbines to blend into urban landscapes seamlessly. According to Krief, “As it is biomorphic, people cannot see at the first look that it is a renewable system.” The aesthetic appeal is further enhanced by the customization options for the color of the trunk and leaves. This visually appealing design avoids the visual pollution often associated with traditional wind turbines, making it suitable for installation along roadsides, in public parks, and private gardens.

Standing between five and ten meters tall, these wind trees are compact and easy to install without significant engineering work. The installation process is simplified, requiring only a single bracket and three bolts to secure the structure. Their compact size also mitigates some of the common issues associated with large wind turbines, such as bird collisions and noise pollution. The WindPalm operates silently, adding to its suitability for urban environments.

The energy generation capability of the WindPalm and its counterparts is noteworthy. Rather than being connected to the national grid, these turbines provide energy directly to a building’s electrical system in a process known as self-consumption. The WindPalm can function continuously, providing energy around the clock. This is a significant advantage over solar panels, which typically generate power only during daylight hours.

Wind Tree Urban Spaces
New World Wind mentions that the Wind Tree can generate nearly 18,000 kWh per year in typical 8 m/s wind speeds and up to 36,000 kWh annually in optimal 12 m/s conditions.

New World Wind’s Aeroleaf technology, which powers these wind trees, is designed for high efficiency. Each Aeroleaf can produce up to 1,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year under optimal conditions. For example, a WindTree equipped with 36 Aeroleaves can produce up to 36,000 kWh annually at a wind speed of 12 meters per second (m/s). However, under more typical conditions with an average wind speed of 8 m/s, a WindTree can generate approximately 18,000 kWh per year. This amount of energy is sufficient to power a household of four people, potentially reducing annual CO2 emissions by over 12 tonnes.

For comparison, a 4 kW solar power system on an average-sized house can produce around 3,000 kWh of electricity per year. This highlights the significant potential of micro wind turbines in generating renewable energy, especially in areas where wind conditions are favorable.

Wind Tree Color Options
The Aéroleaf sheets, trunks, and branches of the Wind Tree can be customized in various colors to match your company’s branding or street furniture.

The WindPalm and similar systems are also equipped with battery storage to manage excess energy production. Each tree has four batteries with a total capacity of 60 ampere-hours (Ah), which can store energy for 45 minutes to one hour under normal conditions. This feature ensures a stable energy supply even when wind conditions fluctuate.

Additionally, hybrid versions of these wind trees are available, incorporating solar petals beneath the wind turbines. This combination of wind and solar power maximizes energy generation and ensures a more reliable supply of renewable energy.

In terms of cost, the WindPalm and other wind trees represent a significant investment. A single Aeroleaf is priced at €695 (about US$757). A 36-leaf WindTree costs €50,990 (about US$55,513), while a hybrid solar WindBush with 12 leaves is priced at €22,500 (about US$24,496). The WindPalm, with its 18 to 30 leaf-shaped wind turbines, starts at €28,800 (about US$31,357). While these prices are higher than those of traditional solar panel systems, which range from $8,000 to $12,000 for a 4 kW system in the United States, the higher energy output and continuous generation capabilities of wind trees offer substantial long-term benefits.

Wind Tree Albania Tirana
A Wind Tree in Tirana, Albania.

New World Wind’s innovative designs have garnered recognition, including being named one of the top 10 energy sustainability solutions providers in Europe by Energy Business Review. The company has installed 130 devices globally, with clients including major corporations such as British American Tobacco in Italy, Phoenix Contact in Germany, Deloitte in the USA, and L’Oreal in France. Residential installations have also been completed in locations such as Birmingham, UK, Vermont, USA, and Switzerland.

As New World Wind plans to expand into the Americas and leverage the incentives provided by US President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, wind trees could become a more familiar sight in urban landscapes worldwide. These tree-shaped micro wind turbines offer a promising solution for generating renewable energy in tight urban spaces, combining aesthetic appeal with efficient energy production.

Wind Tree Installed Globally
The Wind Tree has been installed globally, from Europe and the US to South Korea, showcasing its versatility and appeal in various urban environments.

In conclusion, the WindPalm and similar wind trees present an innovative approach to urban renewable energy generation. With their aesthetic design, efficient energy production, and capability to operate continuously, they offer a viable solution for integrating green energy into urban environments.

Source: New World Wind