Wind turbines spun by the airflow from passing vehicles installed on a major road in Shropshire will generate enough electricity to run all the streetlights for the nearby town in a UK first.
The vertical wind turbines, invented by a British company, can harness even a moderate breeze, which they say is generated by a car driving at 50mph, as well as by natural wind, and catch airflow moving in either direction.
They will be installed on 181 streetlights on the A442 after a deal between Telford and Wrekin’s Labour-run council and company Alpha 311, which hopes the turbines could become as ubiquitous as cats’ eyes on the roads.
The turbines will provide electricity to the grid, and are expected to generate a surplus beyond the needs of Telford’s 20,000 street lights.
One wind turbine in the middle of a motorway can generate as much electricity as 30 solar panels, or nearly enough to power two homes, according to estimates from Alpha 311.
The idea for the turbine originated between the company’s two co-founders during long commutes along the M2.
Barry Thompson, the co-founder of Alpha 311, said: “It was at a time when Kent County Council were turning the lights off to save money. Following behind trucks we could see the turbulence being displaced and the impact on the foliage.
“That’s wasted energy. And by doing it this way instead of with a large turbine, we are not uprooting the landscape.”
Six other councils are also interested in installing the technology on their streetlights, and the company says it is in talks with local authorities in other countries, including Chicago in the US.
The company has already installed 10 of its vertical turbines on the O2 Arena in London, which can produce power equivalent to powering 23 homes.
Cutting carbon footprint
Telford and Wrekin has reduced its carbon footprint by 58 per cent since it declared a “climate emergency” in 2019, although that includes emissions cuts during lockdowns.
Part of its emissions cuts has been achieved by 1,400 staff members working from home, which it says has cut down on energy used in printing and commuting, but does not account for extra energy used in the home.
It plans to be carbon neutral by 2030 and to remove single-use plastics from all of its operations by next year. In 2014 it became the second local authority to build a publicly-owned solar farm.
Alpha 311’s vertical wind turbines, which are retrofitted as a “sleeve” over the existing lamppost, can be installed without the council having to seek planning permission, making them relatively quick and easy to develop. They are made from carbon fibre, which the company hopes will eventually be recycled and recyclable.
‘As commonplace as cats’ eyes’
The excess electricity they generate in Telford will be turned into renewable energy certificates to be used by a third party which is investing in the construction of the turbines.
“While we already have our turbines mounted on buildings, this marks the first installation alongside a public road, which is really the sweet spot for the Alpha 311 turbine,” said Mr Thompson.
“We can see a future where our turbines are as commonplace as cats’ eyes and the concept of turning roads into windfarms is no longer a novelty. It’s very bold for a council to be a first-mover, and I’m delighted that Telford and Wrekin is taking this step.”
Carolyn Healy, the councillor responsible for environment at Telford and Wrekin, said: “This new partnership with Alpha 311 restates our commitment to tackling the climate emergency and reinforces our approach: that actions speak louder than words.”
[rest of article available at source]
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