Scientists create wind and solar power flags

Scientists at Manchester University have created flags that generate wind and solar power.

The new energy-harnessing flags generate wind and solar power through movement and solar cells embedded within the flag.

Manchester University say they are the first to study flags which “simultaneously harvest wind and solar energies using inverted flags”.

The flags are able to power remote sensors and small-scale portable electronics.

Jorge Silva-Leon, from Manchester’s School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering and lead-author of the study, said: “Under the action of the wind, the flags we built bend from side to side in a repetitive fashion, also known as Limit-Cycle Oscillations.

“This makes them perfectly suited for uniform power generation from the deformation of piezoelectric materials.

“Simultaneously, the solar panels bring a double benefit: they act as a destabilizing mass which triggers the onset of flapping motions at lower wind speeds, and of course are able to generate electricity from the ambient light.”

The aim of the study is to allow cheap and sustainable energy harvesting solutions which can be deployed and left to generate energy with little or no need for maintenance.

The strategy is known as “deploy-and-forget” and is the anticipated model that so-called smart cities will adopt when using remote sensors.

Dr Andrea Cioncolini, co-author of the study, added: “Wind and solar energies typically have intermittencies that tend to compensate each other.

“The sun does not usually shine during stormy conditions, whereas calm days with little wind are usually associated with shiny sun.

“This makes wind and solar energies particularly well suited for simultaneous harvesting, with a view at compensating their intermittency.”