Planting the seed of sustainability: the Wind Tree

Jérôme’s wind turbines

Classic wind turbines

One day, somewhere unknown in the romantic lands of France, a very nice guy woke up, look at those famous Dutch wind turbines, and said “I bet I can do that, but cuter”. And so he did. It’s hard to think of smart, tasteful ways to combine efficiency and aesthetics when it comes to wind power. You have to think of a turbine tower like some sort of Shrek: nobody wants one in the village. Not because of the swamp stink though: wind turbines are noisier than your always-fighting-on-route-for-divorce neighbors. Listen, you can be a sucker for renewable energy as much as you want, but I bet you wouldn’t feel all smiles and sunshine waking up to the oh-so-pleasant buzz of a 100 mt tall turbine. On top of that, wind turbines just work better when placed up high or out on the coasts, away from tall buildings and sad plains, where they can enjoy all the breeze they deserve. And hopefully, kill less innocent birds. Now that you’ve probably got a horrible flashlight on that Dark episode, let’s take a much brighter angle on the matter.

Wind energy, the numbers

Wind energy is the cheapest method of energy harvesting, and it’s bound to attract the interest of many future investors: in 2019, Europe raised 19 bn for the installment of new wind farms, and witnessed investments of over 13 bn in wind energy projects. Not to mention that the UK, the Netherlands and France have had their eyes fixed on those sexy, sexy turbines for a while now. Although COVID-19 shook the market worse than a magic 8-ball, sustainable energy remains a solid asset, and an incredibly relevant topic. It’s not just that sustainability is beneficial for the environment – thus, for all humankind: it’s actually that it is indeed our last hope. You’ve got to think of the bigger picture here: widely used fossil fuels such as gas and oil will likely run out in 50 years. I mean, if we play our karma cards right, you and I may still be alive by then – and you’re free to take the news however you feel.

When aesthetics meets sustainability

Let’s get back to the nice French guy I mentioned above, because he has a beautiful name too: Jérôme Michaud-Larivière. He’s the CEO of a startup called New World Wind, a company that cleverly designed an eco-friendly, highly instagrammable device. We’re talking about the Wind Tree, an electrical production system that – you guessed it – looks just like a tree. Its steel branches are topped with multiple, tiny turbines, called Aeroleaves, that work well even with low wind speed. All of these leaf-like blades operate independently: that way, if one of them malfunctions, the others will still hold up their smooth run. Something I wish I could say about my neurons. The wind trees are as clever as they can be, and can now count on their little brother as well: the Wind Bush. These cute trees are almost 10 mt tall, super quiet and the perfect fit for any city brave enough to embrace the much-needed environmental change. They are devised for on-site consumption and can power up 83% of the electrical consumption of a family household, or 15 streetlamps, or an electric vehicle – just to mention a few examples.

What started off as mere prototypes, it’s today an up and running business. New World Wind has “planted” Wind Trees throughout the entire globe – France, Switzerland, New Delhi, the Netherlands, Dubai -, and the company website has officially turned into an e-commerce platform, able to deliver anywhere in the world. Now, if you were thinking of getting one, you might have to think again. I don’t need to check my pockets twice to know that a Wind Tree is definitely out of my budget (and yes, feel free to cry for me). But I can’t stop thinking of how simple yet revolutionary it is: any city would hugely benefit from investing in such a project. It might seem like a small step, but imagine if all our cities could be covered with Wind Trees, just quietly spinning like giant toys, doing good to us while we do some good to our planet. Wouldn’t you be all smiles and sunshine?

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