While scaled-up renewable energy plants can generate a great deal of energy, there’s a huge demand for smaller devices in off-grid, remote, or harsh locations. Designer Nils Ferber created a Micro Wind Turbine that works as well on a blustery mountaintop as it does in a backyard garden, and can charge smartphones via a USB port on the turbine. Weighing around two pounds, the Micro Wind Turbine folds up like an umbrella and can be easily transported.

Ferber’s Micro Wind Turbine unfolds along a telescopic shaft, popping out into a tiny turbine that “produces a constant output of five watts at a windspeed of 18 kilometers per hour.” An “integrated battery pack” with a 24 watt-hour capacity can store the energy, or users can charge a device directly through a USB port right on the turbine. The blades are made of sturdy fabric and can capture wind energy blowing from any direction.

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The Micro Wind Turbine works where solar panels tend to struggle, such as cloudy locations where sunlight is infrequent or at night. It’s designed for outdoor explorers, filmmakers, climbers, scientists, and even rescue workers who adventure or labor in extreme locations where there’s not as much easy access to power.

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Its slight frame won’t add much to the gear or equipment a person is already packing; at around two pounds it is “40 percent lighter than the closest competitor,” according to Ferber. He tested the Micro Wind Turbine in the Swiss Alps, demonstrating its effectiveness in very windy weather.

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While the initial Micro Wind Turbine works for just one person, Ferber says the turbine is “easily scaleable.” According to his James Dyson Award page, he is searching for partners to develop the wind turbine into a marketable product.

+ Nils Ferber

Via Treehugger

Images via Christian Holweck, Jagoda Wisniewska, and Nils Ferber