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Selected slag heaps in the coal mining state of North Rhine Wesfalia (NRW) could provide sites for 130-150 wind turbines rated at 500 kW, according to a preliminary study by the Wind Energy Research Group at Münster University, commissioned by NRW's economy ministry. The 70 MW of wind generating capacity would supply 90-120 million kWh a year -- and if 1.5 MW turbines were used, the wind harvest could be as much as 170-210 million kWh.

The study gives an overview of potential on the slag heaps. A detailed investigation into the suitability of the sites with regard to foundations, grid connection and impact on the ecology has yet to be carried out. Nevertheless, talks on using the wind potential of the slag heaps are now taking place between NRW economy minister Wolfgang Clement, the local electricity utilities and the owner of the heaps, major coal producer Ruhrkohle.

Two options are being explored for development of the sites: development by utilities, or development by private wind co-operatives in which a utility could buy a stake. It is hoped that a first demonstration project can be launched with public support from the economy ministry.

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