Commercial sites

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The potential of siting wind turbines among warehouses and low rise office blocks in commercial areas has been investigated by a German environment and planning firm, the Institut für Umweltmessungen and Planung in Hannover. The firm's Stephen Koenig and Anja Ritschel argue that producing electricity is a commercial activity and areas designated for industrial development should be obvious sites.

They based their study on the small city state of Bremen where there are several industrial and commercial sites, especially in and around the port. With wind turbine hub heights now regularly reaching 50-70 metres, the land around warehouses -- which are often no higher than 12 metres -- could be as suitable or more suitable than rural sites, now running short in the most windy areas of Germany, the authors point out.

The advantages of exploiting the wind on industrial estates include ready road and grid access, easier planning and licencing, and better acceptance of wind turbines by the public. However, safety is vital, say Koenig and Ritschel. Commercial areas are peopled and care must be taken to ensure turbines are well maintained to avoid the risk of parts breaking away. Ice build-up on blades -- and the risk of it being flung off -- also has to be considered. They suggest requiring wind turbine control systems to stop a wind turbine if ice build-up is registered.

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