Wind turbines do not have to be high gusts out in the woods or at sea. They can also consist of a turbine that is so small that it can be placed on a lamppost and still be so efficient that it can drive the street lamps on the pole.
This idea behind the British company Alpha 311's new wind turbines . According to the company, the turbines must be so efficient that the wind speed from passing cars is sufficient to generate enough electricity for the road lighting. If it then blows, it is of course a welcome bonus, but it should not be necessary.
- If you stand by a road and a truck drives past, you feel the wind and it is the energy in that pull that we capture. People have previously considered putting turbines on top of lampposts or turning the entire pole into a turbine. But it has required that you build the pole like that from the beginning. Our solution can instead be mounted on existing posts, says Barry Thompson, CEO of Alpha 311 and inventor of the turbine.
The turbine is two meters high and sits around the lamppost. According to Alpha 311's calculations, it should be able to generate as much electricity as 21 square meters with solar cells.
Today, the turbine is only available as a prototype and each turbine costs 20,000 pounds (230,000 kronor), but the company is working to make it smaller, more efficient and cheaper.
In the long term, the idea is that the turbines will generate so much electricity that they can not only power the lampposts but also sell electricity via the electricity grid. Alpha 311 would then not sell the turbines but instead rent them out to those who own the lampposts and share the profits from the electricity sales with these owners.
Alpha 311 is already negotiating with some local authorities in the UK to test the solution on a larger scale.
The future will show how the investment goes. But it is, if nothing else, an example that there are still many opportunities to come up with new innovative solutions even in mature technology areas.