Three years of research have led a team of French engineers to produce their interpretation of wind energy for urban locations. The Wind Tree stands at 26 feet tall, and its branches adorn the Pleumeur-Bodou commune in Brittany in northwestern France. Hit the jump to learn more about this new breed of silent wind turbine that turns energy production into an art form.

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Jérôme Michaud-Larivière, the founder of the company New Wind, says that “The idea came to me in a square where I saw the leaves tremble when there was not a breath of air.” He went on to hypothesize that the energy “had to come from somewhere and be translatable into watts.” Other turbine ideas have hit the headlines, but the wind tree is the first that fully integrates form and function rather than being an add on. The Wind tree will be on display in Paris Place de Concorde in May 2015.

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The Wind tree uses tiny blades that are housed in the leaf units. The blades turn inwards, which enables the units to turn in the wind, regardless of wind direction. Jerome told Microsoft the units respond to wind as low as 2 meters per second. The units are silent, which is a bonus, as other wind turbine technology can be very noisy and unsuitable for urban areas. The team therefore claim the wind tree is less obtrusive than other designs and could be used in many locations such as gardens, squares, parks and shopping centers. The units will cost around £23,000 and can be linked together. Since they look like sculptures, the trees could be used as street art that also powers the city.

Via Daily Mail

All images via arbre a vent