Three French designers, Nicola Delon, Julien Choppin and Raphael Menard, have won Metropolis Magazine’s 2009 Next Generation contest with the simple idea of instaling wind turbines on, or inside of, high-voltage electricity transmission towers.

Although their suggestion of putting vertical axis turbines inside the structure of transmission towers may not be the most effective design, combining power generation with transmission would avoid the cost of having to build the infrastructure to bring power from the generators to the distribution grid.

“There are half a million pylons already in France,”  Raohael Ménard says. “If you look to other countries, there are tens of millions. Even if the power is tiny, as soon as you integrate it like that, it creates big, big energy.” The team estimates that if a third of France’s high-voltage electricity towers were renovated with turbines, they could rival the power generation of two nuclear reactors, or about 5 percent of the country’s energy needs.

Alex­andros Washburn, New York’s chief urban designer and a judge for the competition, commented that “The genius of the proposal is that it solved probably the biggest issue of wind production,” says  “which is where to locate these very large structures. By incorporating them into transmission towers, which are already located and of the same scale as wind towers, the idea of how it looks on the landscape is very cleverly integrated.”