Wind Power Mapping Study Looks at Turbine Feasibility for Boston High-Rises

A wind energy mapping study of Boston is being conducted to determine the feasibility of wind power for 10 high-rises throughout the City of Boston, including the Equity Office Properties building at 60 State Street and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

Eastern Wind Power (EWP), the Cambridge, MA-based green energy technology firm conducting the study, claims that a "Sky Farm" consisting of ten 50 kilowatt vertical access wind turbines (VAWTs) can provide about 10% of the energy that a typical 500,000 square foot high-rise consumes.

"One turbine can power a building’s electrical emergency backup, eliminating the need for a diesel generator," said Jonathan Haar, president of EWP. "It can also produce more usable energy than a 10,000-square-foot solar photovoltaic array."

To assess the potential for wind power, EWP has deployed web-based HOBO(R) U30 weather stations from Bourne, MA-based Onset Computer Corporation to measure wind speed, wind gust, and wind direction at the test sites.

"The weather stations allow us to measure all three parameters simultaneously, and access the data online," said Linda Haar, board chair at EWP. "By charting microclimates in downtown Boston we will be able to help local companies learn if greening their sites with wind power is feasible."

The interest in harnessing wind energy continues to grow in the U.S. and around the world. Several trends are driving this, including the desire to lessen dependency on petroleum products, rising energy prices, and the recognition that sustainable building management practices can be both environmentally responsible and economically smart.

Wind data from the top of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Green Building in Cambridge, MA has already helped EWP conclude that a single Sky Farm 50 kW turbine installed there will generate about 45,000 kWh of electricity per year. This amount of energy can power six to eight homes.

EWP is currently gathering wind data from the roofs of both 60 State Street and Mass Eye and Ear. They plan to collect data from eight more high-rises in downtown Boston by 2013. .