Wind-turbines that fit around motorway lamp posts and are powered by passing vehicles could help the UK reach its target of being carbon neutral by 2050.
Kent-based businessman Barry Thompson created the unusual-looking device and says they could initially be used to power the lights they are attached to.
Eventually, the entrepreneur hopes the energy generated from the spinning cylinders will be enough to sell back into the grid.
Each turbine is two metres tall, currently costs £20,000 to make, and generates the same amount of energy as 21 square metres of solar panels.
Mr Thompson says the turbines will likely become more efficient and smaller with further development.
Mr Thompson, CEO of Alpha 311, has created prototypes which currently power his office in Kent (pictured)
Kent-based businessman Barry Thompson created the unusual-looking device and says they could initially be used to power the lights they are attached to. Pictured, diagram showing how the turbines work
Mr Thompson, CEO of Alpha 311, says the turbine is the first of its kind in the world and offers a solution to the complex challenge of amassing clean energy.
Last week Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged that an impending green industrial revolution would power every home in the UK with offshore wind by 2030.
But Mr Thompson disagrees with the Premier and believes onshore solutions are also needed to reach this ambitious target.
The chief executive officer of the company based in Whitstable, Kent, said: ‘Do I think offshore wind is everything? No, I think onshore wind is the cheaper option, and a distributed network needs to really push this thing forward.
‘Whether we’ll be doing it by 2030 I don’t know, it’s going to need a lot of collaboration.’
Speaking from his home office which is powered by the prototype units, the 51-year-old added: ‘If you’ve ever stood by the road and a lorry has gone past, you’ll feel the air that moves – we capture that energy.’
Eventually, the turbines would not only power their host lamp post but also generate enough energy to sell back to the grid
Mr Thompson, CEO of Alpha 311, says their idea is the first of its kind in the world and offers a solution to the complex challenge of amassing clean energy. The turbines would spin in a brisk breeze or also when a vehicle rushes past on the road
Each turbine is two metres tall, currently costs £20,000 to make and generate the same amount of energy as a 21 square metres of solar panels. Mr Thompson says the turbines would likely become more efficient and smaller with further development
As an example, the A299 Thanet Way in Kent is less than 20 miles long and features 1,114 lighting columns, which would all be prime candidates for the turbines.
The turbines would be installed on the central reservation, therefore powered by wind generated on both sides of the carriageway.
Unlike some existing green energy schemes which have sparked outrage over environmental concerns, Mr Thompson says his scheme would cause little disruption to the existing infrastructure and environment.
‘People have thought of putting wind turbines on top of lighting columns, they’ve considered remaking lighting columns in their entirety, but this is a retro-fit solution, so it attaches to what we already have,’ he says.
‘We’re not blighting the landscape with massive turbines, we’re making use of existing infrastructure.’
‘Nobody wants a 700ft turbine in their backyard – would you notice these on a motorway?’
Local authorities would not be forced to purchases the turbines, instead Alpha 311 will lease them to councils and the energy crated and sold back to the grid would then be split between the company and the council.
Mr Thompson said the company is currently in talks with a UK local authority to trial the technology on their motorways, but could not confirm which one.
A number of small US cities are also trialling the technology from Alpha 311.
HOW DO WIND TURBINES WORK?
Wind turbines operate on a simple principle- the energy in the wind turns propeller-like blades around a rotor.
The rotor is connected to the main shaft, which spins a generator to create electricity.
They work in the opposite way to a fan, instead of using electricity to make wind, like a fan, wind turbines use wind to make electricity.
There are two main types of wind turbine that operate on the same basic principle.
Off-shore ones are larger and tend to create more energy and are often built in large groups, known as wind farms.
These provide bulk power to the National Grid.