Once registered, you can:

  • - Read additional free articles each month
  • - Comment on articles and featured creative work
  • - Get our curated newsletters delivered to your inbox

By registering you agree to our privacy policy, terms & conditions and to receive occasional emails from Ad Age. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Are you a print subscriber? Activate your account.


By Published on .

Ricoh's Times Square Eco-Billboard.
Ricoh's Times Square Eco-Billboard.
If the 500,000 billboards on U.S. highways were outfitted with wind turbines and the wind blew steady at 10 mph for one year, those ads could power approximately 1.5 million homes and prevent the release of 5.3 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere.

That's according to WePower, a clean energy company that's just begun designing eco-outdoor alternatives for advertisers with its Windvertising products. The California-based company is currently putting the final touches on a 45-foot-tall Times Square billboard for the Japanese electronics company Ricoh. (The turbines were installed in December and are still undergoing modifications—WePower plans to have the billboard fully functional by Earth Day, April 22.) The New York City billboard is equipped with 16 wind turbines, 64 solar panels and LED floodlights. At an average speed of 10 mph, the average wind speed in Times Square, the turbines will generate about 22 kilowatts of energy per hour, enough to power four houses. The clean energy produced will avoid 18 tons of carbon emissions as well as energy bills in the tens of thousands.

Turbines for the Ricoh Eco-Billboard.
Turbines for the Ricoh Eco-Billboard.
"Our vertical-axis turbines allow for wind power in urban environments and cities," says WePower's chairman and ceo Marvin Winkler. The technology and patent were recently acquired from PacWind, a California-based manufacturer, and the product looks more like a rotating lantern than the triple-blade, fan-like horizontal turbine often seen in rural areas. The WePower vertical-axis turbines mean size is not an issue: "They can range in size from 2.5 feet to four stories tall," Winkler says. The WePower turbines are also stackable, require less space—the Ricoh turbines are stacked four high—and can capture wind from any direction at speeds as low as 2 mph.

Branded Turbine Mock-Up.
Branded Turbine Mock-Up.
Beyond Ricoh, WePower is currently designing 25 custom eco-outdoor installations for advertisers and media companies like Lamar—we can expect to see units in place by summer, Winkler says. In addition to energy-producing outdoor, WePower is in talks to install branded turbines on the roofs of retailers and fast food restaurants. WePower has the ability to put art on the air foils (left), so that when they spin, the art creates a flip-book effect.
Most Popular
In this article: