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Munich wind turbine gives life to world’s largest Christmas star

Christmas StarStarting 29 November, Munich will usher in the holiday season with the world’s largest — and greenest — revolving Christmas star.

Munich-based multimedia artist Michael Pendry first approached the firm Siemens in the fall of 2008 with the idea of creating a shining symbol for green technologies and sustainability prior to the Global Climate Summit in Copenhagen this December. Together, Pendry and representatives from Siemens decided the ideal site would be a huge wind turbine alongside the A9 autobahn in Fröttmaning at the gates of Munich. Wind turbine operator Stadtwerke München (Munich City Utilities) agreed to support the project.

Now fitted with 9,000 light-emitting diodes (LEDs), the turbine will switch on its holiday display starting on the first Advent Sunday and will keep it lit through 31 December.

Experts began assessing the proposed display in the spring of 2009, seeking answers to a variety of vexing questions: How should the LEDs be arranged to have the least possible impact on the wind turbine’s aerodynamics? Which type of LED should be used? Which adhesives were most effective for securing the LEDs in every type of weather?

Late in the summer, wind energy experts completed their computer simulation analyses on the effects of the installation on the rotor aerodynamics. After that came wind tunnel tests at the Technical University Berlin to analyse over 15 different configurations of lighting arrangements, LED models and cable routing. The tests concluded the LED installation would have only a minimal effect on the wind turbine’s performance.

The project also required approval from all relevant authorities. Siemens experts for traffic safety spoke with the autobahn authorities and air traffic officials to ensure the artistic installation wouldn’t pose a danger to motorists or air passengers. A lighting expertise confirmed that people living in the vicinity of the wind turbine wouldn’t be bothered by the LEDs. And experts also confirmed there would be no increase in the turbine’s noise level.

The installation itself was completed in the record time of two weeks. More than 30 technicians worked on embedding 1,000 LED-Dots, consisting of 9,000 LEDs, in special aerodynamic adapters to ensure minimal effect on the wind turbine’;s performance. After the lighting animation software will be installed, the green “Superstar” will be ready to shine.

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