PARIS Paris city authorities have installed two small wind turbines at the top of one of the capital's hills to test the technology before installing more in one of the world's most famous skylines.
With an average wind speed of 22 kilometers per hour, each turbine has a capacity to supply up to 15,000 kilowatt hours per year, equivalent to the power consumption of six average-sized Parisian flats.
The move was part of a wider plan by the Paris city hall to maximize the city's green potential by installing wind turbines, solar panels, geothermal, and water turbines in the Seine river.
"We have to set the example, as a big city, and a big city watched by the rest of Europe and the world," Anne Hidalgo, Paris deputy mayor, told reporters at the inauguration of the turbines on the roof of the air museum at the top of the Belleville hill, where legendary singer Edith Piaf was born.
Other capital cities such as London have already installed big wind turbines on their fringes and a huge turbine is expected to be built for the 2012 Olympic games.
The turbines in Belleville will supply electricity for the museum for up to six years as the city authorities give themselves an initial period of one year of tests to decide whether to go on to a larger scale or not.
The Paris authorities aim for green energy to produce 30 percent of the electricity consumed by state-owned buildings, and 25 percent of the power consumed by private owners by 2020.
The city also aims for solar panels to reach a surface of 200,000 square meters by 2014 although only a few thousand square meters have been installed so far.
The turbines, which were made by Elena Energie and cost around 25,000 euros each, are 1.60 meter (5.25 feet) tall and save 8 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.
Officials said they were working with architects to integrate them in the cityscape.
"Paris is the world's first touristic destination and we of course do not wish to damage the landscape," said Denis Baupin, the mayor's advisor in charge of sustainable development.
But as the press conference got underway in front of the air museum, Catherine Rousseau, a pensioner living behind the museum said her panoramic view of Paris had been spoilt by the turbines and no one in the neighbourhood had been warned of the changes.
"We're wondering whether this wasn't an April's fool," she said.
(Editing by Marie Maitre)