In a “technological first”, thousands of apartment dwellers may soon be able to enjoy the same green energy benefits as homeowners thanks to this exciting little device.

The O-Wind Turbine is a small wind turbine that can generate power in urban environments by catching wind that blows in any direction.

Typical wind turbines are only able to harness wind that is blowing horizontally. In a complex urban environment where buildings interfere with air flow, winds are more likely to be traveling in every direction.

That’s why the O-Wind is made with vents in the exterior so that it can still catch city crosswinds and spin accordingly. The turbine then feeds into a generator that can create electricity from the device’s rotations.

The O-Wind’s small design means that it could easily be affixed to apartment balconies and give renters access to the feed-in green energy tariffs that are currently available in 80 countries. It could also benefit people in other kinds of residential locales, such as motor homes or boats.

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The turbine’s creators 36-year-old Nicolas Orellana and 24-year-old Yaseen Noorani, have been awarded this year’s prestigious James Dyson Award in the UK. This means that the turbine will go on to compete in the international James Dyson competition for a chance to win the grand prize of $39,000 (£30,000).

“We hope that O-Wind Turbine will improve the usability and affordability of turbines for people across the world. Cities are windy places but we are currently not harnessing this resource,” said Orellana.

“Our belief is that making it easier to generate green energy, people will be encouraged to play a bigger own role in conserving our planet. Winning the James Dyson Award has validated our concept, and given us the confidence to approach investors to secure the capital we need to turn our idea into a reality.”

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The inventors are both students at Lancaster University, and they plan on using the school’s facilities to further develop the O-Wind. Wind power currently only generates about 4% of the world’s electricity even though it could produce over 40 times the amount of electricity consumed – and the inventors hope that their backyard turbine could help reach that goal.

Professor Harry Hoster, director of Energy Lancaster at Lancaster University, said: “When the two students first approached us about test facilities for a new wind turbine design, we first thought it would just be the 23rd variation of some plain vanilla system.

“When they humbly showed their video and their prototype, however, we were, excuse the pun, blown away. Only holding it in your hands and playing with it gives you a chance to understand what their new device actually does and how, if things go right, its ability to capture any random breezes will take urban energy harvesting to another level.”

(WATCH the video below)

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