One of the world's most iconic monuments just got even better, with the addition of two vertical axis wind turbines.

Installed by New York company Urban Green Energy (UGE), the turbines are capable of capturing wind from any direction and are located above the tower's second floor, 120 metres off the ground. They're already producing 10,000 kWh of electricity per year - enough to power the Eiffel tower's commercial first floor area. And as you can see below, they look pretty damn good.

rsz img 5447UGE

Called VisionAIR5s, the turbines are "virtually silent", according to a UGE press release, and they were custom painted to matched the aged iron colour of the Eiffel tower.

"The Eiffel Tower is arguably the most renowned architectural icon in the world, and we are proud that our advanced technology was chosen as the tower commits to a more sustainable future," CEO of UGE, Nick Blitterswyk, said in the release. "When visitors from around the world see the wind turbines, we get one step closer to a world powered by clean and reliable renewable energy."

As part of the same renovation, the team installed LED lighting and 10 square metres of solar panels on the roof of the first-floor visitor's area. This solar set-up will heat nearly half of the water used by the two pavilion areas. A rainwater recovery system is now also in place to help flush the toilets.

There are no set renewable energy targets in place for the Eiffel tower at the moment, but the upgrade contributes to Paris' climate plan, which aims for the city to have a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption, and for 25 percent of energy to come from renewable sources by 2020.

Unfortunately, the new initiatives don't produce enough electricity just yet to offset the tower's controversial nightly light show. But the proof of concept is there - we now know we can make iconic structures more sustainable without destroying them. Plus it can't hurt that the seven million visitors each year will leave thinking about renewable energy.

Let's hope the update inspires more tourism hotspots to incorporate a little wind and solar energy. Sydney Harbour Bridge, we're looking at you.

Source: The Guardian