CLIMATE Change and Environment Minister Elliot Morley praised Co-operative Financial Services' initiative to install micro-wind turbines on the roof of one of its Manchester buildings.
The Minister and CFS Chief Executive David Anderson (pictured) switched on the first turbines on the roof of the 13-storey CIS building, in Portland Street.
Mr Morley said: "Co-operative Financial Services are to be congratulated on this impressive development which shows how micro-wind turbines can be used to help combat climate change.
"There must be thousands of buildings like this one in city centres across the country that could help to cut energy costs, increase energy efficiency and yield environmental benefits."
The scheme, which will eventually boast 19 turbines, will be the largest-ever commercial application of micro-wind turbines in the UK. The wind turbines will produce 44,000 units of renewable energy each year.
Each micro-turbine, which stands around 3m tall and bolts on to the top of a property like a satellite dish, will generate some 1KW of electricity and save around one tonne of carbon dioxide per annum.
David Anderson, Chief Executive of CFS, said: "Forty per cent of Europe's energy use is associated with buildings and the micro-wind project, along with the Solar Tower development, demonstrates that these piles of steel and concrete have tremendous potential for future energy generation.
"It is clear that towns and cities can make a much bigger contribution to renewable energy generation and ensure that the burden of renewable generation is not borne entirely by the countryside. To date, wind turbines have tended to be large and sited in rural areas."
CFS is now exploring the possibility of placing micro-wind turbines at other sites within its property portfolio of more than 200 buildings.
• Mr Anderson has also called on companies to sign up for "free" electricity in five years time.
He told delegates at a Northwest Climate Change Summit in Liverpool that if firms erect micro-wind turbines on their buildings this year they would be generating "free" energy in 2011.
Mr Anderson explained that an investment in micro-wind turbines had a five-year pay back and so from that point on the energy generated would in effect be free.