A revolutionary new design for onshore wind turbines that can be attached to lamp posts and powered by traffic has been unveiled.
The English businessman behind the new concept that can be installed along highways believes they will help hit renewable energy targets in the UK and beyond because they do not rely on natural wind.
The turbines, fixed to existing street lights, would use the wind created by vehicles speeding past to generate electricity to power both those lights and eventually a lot more.
Barry Thompson, CEO of Alpha 311 behind the invention, says their idea is the first of its kind in the world and offers a simple answer to the complex challenge of amassing large amounts of clean energy.
The company believes a turbine attached to each lighting column could collectively generate around 6mw per day—enough to power a small village.
Last week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged that an impending green industrial revolution would power every home in the UK with offshore wind by 2030.
Thompson believes innovative onshore solutions will help the nation achieve that target..
The chief executive officer of the Kent-based company said, “Do I think offshore wind is everything? No, I think onshore wind is the cheaper option, and a distributed network needs to really push this thing forward.
Speaking from his home office which is powered by the prototype units, the 51-year-old added, “If you’ve ever stood by the road and a lorry [truck] has gone past, you’ll feel the air that moves—we capture that energy.”
As an example, the A299 Thanet Way in Kent is less than 20 miles long and features 1,114 lighting columns.
The turbines would be installed on the central reservation, therefore powered by wind generated on both sides of the carriageway.
This highway-powered concept would blend in with existing infrastructure. “This is a retro-fit solution,” explained Thompson, “so it attaches to what we already have.
“We’re not blighting the landscape with massive turbines, we’re making use of existing infrastructure.”
Each turbine can generate the same as 21 square meters (226 square feet) of solar panels and is two meters (6.5 feet) tall, with the potential to be even smaller as development continues.
Mr Thompson said the company is currently in talks with a UK local authority to trial the technology on their roads.
A number of small US cities are also trialling the technology from Alpha 311.
The project is looking to go into testing next year, with a hopeful rollout in counties across the UK beyond that.