When we talk about what kind of wasted energy could be utilized while driving, everyone first thinks of braking energy. Regenerative braking systems make it possible for the car to recycle the energy generated during braking and recharge the battery of a hybrid vehicle, increasing the range of the car. However, there is another type of energy that could be easily utilized.
Kent-based businessman Barry Thompson and his company Alpha 311 have developed a new type of wind turbines that are attached to existing lighting columns close to roads and are powered by massive, untapped energy produced by moving vehicles.
This way, energy can be produced even when there’s no wind, like cars passing by constantly rotate the turbine on a busy road. These unusual-looking devices could initially be used to power the lights they are attached to. Eventually, they have the potential to help the UK reach its target of being carbon neutral by 2050 by harnessing the enormous amounts of wind-generated by vehicles every day.
The Alpha 311 vertical axis wind turbine is smaller, cheaper, and easier to install than traditional turbines. Each turbine built by the company is two meters high and currently costs around $26,000 to build. They can generate as much energy as 21 square meters of solar panels. They are installed at strategic points with the intention that when a car passes, it activates them.
Barry Thompson, the CEO of Alpha 311, says the wind turbines they developed are the first of their kind in the world not only in terms of energy potential but also in terms of ease of installation. Installation is extremely simple because the existing infrastructure is mostly used.
The company is currently in talks with authorities to test the technology on UK roads, and some smaller US cities are also testing these turbines. The Alpha 311’s current goal is to make wind turbines smaller and more efficient.