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Highway wind turbines that go "by truck"

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Highways turn into power plants thanks to wind turbines that, from the edge, capture the "winds" of the trucks. Yes, the ones that sometimes cause you to skid. The idea comes from 3 young Italians leaving La Spezia with this baptized start-up ATEA which drove Enel Lab crazy and made it "shell out" a loan to make it happen. Stefano Sciurpa, one of the brains involved in the project together with those of Giovanni Favalli is Gianluca Gennai, tells us what it will be.

1) What does your project consist of?

It involves installing micro-wind turbines aboard the motorway in order to take advantage of the turbulence generated by the flow of heavy vehicles in transit. The energy produced can be put on the grid or used to power motorway utilities.

2) An idea born a few years ago: when and from what? How did you take the first steps?

The idea was born like this: in a dinner with friends talking about the energy crisis, energy costs and renewables. Fortunately, our project was immediately married by Serenissima Trading (100% owned by Holding A4 - Brescia Padova motorway) which supported us from the start and allowed us to use their infrastructures for our experiments.

3) What technologies did you use? How does it work?

Before installation we carried out a wind measurement campaign using 10 anemometers and 6 computers in order to be sure of the quantities involved and the validity of the idea. We then installed the microturbine that best suited the flow propagation model we had assumed. It just works like all wind turbines: a permanent magnet generator generates current (the principle explained to children is identical to that of the bicycle dynamo the more you pedal, the more the headlight lights up). This current is then suitably treated to be sent to the electricity grid.

4) What cost do the motorway installations have? How many wind turbines are there today?

Costs depend on economies of scale. Currently there is only one prototype that is being modified: we are a start-up and what has been awarded is the idea.

5) Who are you funded by and who are you supported by?

We had a little financial help and a great logistic support from Serenissima Trading. Until a few days ago we were looking for financiers interested in our project, with the win of Enel lab and our involvement in the Enel group will change all horizons in a way that I honestly cannot yet predict.

6) How much energy is produced daily by these wind turbines? Compared to other applications how do you rate this result?

We are talking about 12 -15 KWh per day with our first prototype. To be clear, a family that has a normal 3KW contract with Enel could consume the maximum contract price for 4 hours a day. Compared to photovoltaic panels, thewind power produces day and night, it is not subject to pollution and meteorological factors. Solar panels, on the other hand, for example, produce less when they are dirty and on the motorway they get very dirty, moreover when it snows and the sun comes they do not perform at their best. Few people know this, but when the silicon cells heat up, they reduce their performance and therefore, absurdly, the panels in July and August reduce their performance and at the end of their useful life they must also be disposed of.

7) Is a more powerful wind turbine on the way?

A new, more powerful machine is in the studio. When, how much and why it is top secret for the moment.

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