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 turbine that is attached to existing lighting columns close to roads and is 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 rotating 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 generates as much energy as 215 square feet of solar panels when installed in the median of a highway. They are installed at strategic points with the intention that when a car passes, it activates them. These turbines are attached to existing lighting columns close to roads, where they can harvest the massive untapped energy produced by moving vehicles.
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.
“Cars and trucks are going to be with us for a long time to come, so let’s make them work for the environment and for local communities. Local energy production serves local demand and lowers transmission costs, which reduces costs for the end customer,” the company’s website reads.