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When finished, this could be one of the first high-rises to feature wind turbines on its roof , Source: Howoge

Berlin housing developer wants to put wind turbines on top of high-rise

Berlin housing developer wants to put wind turbines on top of high-rise

Since 2018, photovoltaic systems have been cheaper than wind, however, wind generates energy more consistently

The Berlin municipal housing association Howoge wants to install wind turbines on top of one of their recent development projects – a 64-metre-high residential tower in the district of Lichtenberg. The association has been trying to push the project through building regulators in the German capital since August of 2021, according to a report by the RBB, a Berlin-based media outlet.

While the building is currently under construction with a 50% investment by the city, the urban wind turbine project has yet to clear regulators. Reportedly, they hold concerns over the possible negative health risks regarding the project.

Wind energy is both worse and better than solar  

According to a report by LevelTen Energy, a US-based renewables consulting company, since 2018, the cost of wind energy has passed the cost of solar. One megawatt-hour of wind costs around 34 euros, while solar costs around 31 euros.

However, wind turbines still have notable benefits compared to photovoltaic systems. For one, they generate energy more consistently, at night and in the winter. At the same time, experts would argue that there is no catch-all renewable source. Instead, having a mix of sources can provide a consistent energy supply.

Nevertheless, photovoltaic systems have started to become a staple of the urban environment in recent months, with municipalities almost competing on how much they will invest in the new projects. Howoge Managing Director, Ulrich Schiller, comes into this debate with a simple proposition – why not try to integrate wind turbines in the cities as well.  

The new development on Frankfurter Alee has 398 apartments, of which half are funded by the City of Berlin and will be used as affordable housing, with rents of 6.50 euros per square metre. According to the project details, the building should be ready for occupancy in autumn 2022. Yet, there are no photovoltaic panels on the roof, as has become customary for similar projects. Rather, it has foundations for four large wind turbines, that will be capable of powering 80 apartments on their own.  

The city’s concerns

The city has raised many concerns, ranging from noise pollution to dangerous ice forming in the winter, a problem that is only aggravated by the building’s height. Ulrich Schiller, on his part, shrugged off most of these concerns, because they do not fit the times.

He continued by pointing out that the wind turbines which are planned for the building are smaller and the blades would not protrude away from the building. At the same time, he pointed out that due to a special coating, ice could accumulate on the rotor blades in very specific and rare conditions.  He also put forth the claim that in terms of noise pollution and the possible environmental effect the turbines might have is negligible.

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