The great majority of wind turbines around the world belong to individuals or corporations who use them to generate electric power or to perform mechanical work. As such, wind turbines are primarily designed to be working devices. However, the large size and height above surroundings of modern industrial wind turbines, combined with their moving rotors, often makes them among the most conspicuous objects in their areas. A few localities have exploited the attention-getting nature of wind turbines by placing them on public display, either with visitor centers on their bases, or with viewing areas farther away. The wind turbines themselves are generally of conventional horizontal-axis, three-bladed design, and generate power to feed electrical grids, but they also serve the unconventional roles of technology demonstration, public relations, and education.
Notable wind turbines on public display
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Brooklyn, Wellington, New Zealand has a 230 kW wind turbine
- United Kingdom
- Green Britain Centre, Swaffham, Norfolk - the only wind turbine in the UK that is open for the public to climb. Also doubles as a visitor's centre, cafe and education provider. "Permanently closed" for the third time.
- Green Park Business Park has an Enercon E-70 2 MW wind turbine adjacent to the M4 motorway, billed as the UK's most visible turbine
- Renewable Energy Systems has a Vestas V29 225 kW wind turbine visible from the M25 motorway at its headquarters at Beaufort Court, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire
- Scroby Sands wind farm has a visitor center at Great Yarmouth open during the tourist season (May–October)
- Scout Moor Wind Farm "has become a real tourist attraction" since its 2008 opening
- Whitelee Wind Farm near Glasgow has become the first wind energy project in Scotland to join the Association of Scottish Visitor Attractions (ASVA).
- United States
- Ellensburg, Washington Puget Sound Energy's Renewable Energy Center at the Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility, has a 5,000 sq. ft. visitor center, which features numerous exhibits, a conference room, and guided tours to the base of a wind turbine. The center sits on a ridge at 3,500 ft. in the middle of the 149 turbine facility (Vestas V80 turbines). The Wild Horse Wind Farm is open to visitors from 9:00-5:30 daily, from April through November.
- Dorchester, Massachusetts - Local 103 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers installed the first commercial-scale wind turbine within the City of Boston, a 100 kW unit from Fuhrlaender on a 35-meter tower with rotor diameter of 21 meters, visible from the John F. Kennedy Library
- The Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio has a reconditioned Vestas V27 wind turbine with a nameplate capacity of 225 kW
- Great River Energy's headquarters in Maple Grove, Minnesota has a NEG Micon M700 wind turbine, visible from Interstate 94
- Laurel, New York has a Northern Power Systems 100 kW turbine at the Half Hollow Nursery and private tours of the operating turbine are provided by Eastern Energy Systems Inc. of Mattituck, New York.
- Lubbock, Texas has a Vestas V47 at the American Wind Power Center
- McKinney, Texas has a Wal-Mart store with several sustainability features, including two wind turbines manufactured by Bergey Windpower, of 1 kW and 50 kW nameplate capacity respectively
- Sweetwater, Texas has a 2 MW 60 Hz DeWind D8.2 prototype wind turbine for training students in the Texas State Technical College wind energy program
Some wind turbines on public display go one further, with observation decks beneath their nacelles. The observation decks are accessed with stairs inside the tower.
- United Kingdom
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- "Wind Turbine Project Q & A". Great Lakes Science Center. 2006-05-17. Archived from the original on 2009-04-25. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
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- Levy, Paul (2007-11-27). "An energy model for all to see". Star Tribune. Retrieved 2008-11-02.
- Broehl, Jesse (2005-07-22). "Wal-Mart Deploys Solar, Wind, Sustainable Design". Renewable Energy World. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
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- The Eye of the Wind
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