Turning High-Rise Rooftops Into Wind Farms

Eastern Wind Power (EWP) is a Cambridge, Mass.-based startup that has developed a 50-kilowatt (kW) vertical-axis wind turbine (VAWT) called the Sky Farm. The VAWT is designed specifically to be mounted on the roofs of high-rise buildings. The company has partnered with Siemens to develop its small wind generator and inverter system. The company erected its first prototype Sky Farm at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport in 2010. The turbine is now grid-connected, and producing power for the airport.

eastern-wind-power

image via Eastern Wind Power

As the former director of planning and development for the city of Boston, and owner and president of a commercial construction and permitting company, Vice President and Chairman of the Board Linda Haar and her husband, President and CEO Jonathan Haar, bring a unique set of qualifications to the venture. We spoke with Linda Haar about the company’s plans for the Sky Farm.

EarthTechling: There are a lot of startup VAWT manufacturers out there. Why did Eastern Wind Power decide to concentrate on VAWTs and what makes your turbine better than others on the market?

Eastern Wind Power’s Linda Haar: We’re focused on high wind and, specifically, the kind of high wind that you get on high-rise buildings. We built the turbine strong enough to withstand that accelerated wind, but light enough to be efficient. We think this is a market that’s really important because urban areas demand the most energy, but also have the least options, as far as green energy. With the VAWT, you don’t need the same amount of space that is required for solar. We have also partnered with Siemens, and have a very smart inverter system, designed to work in high winds. The inverter system, and the light weight of the turbine and the rotor itself are what makes it very efficient.

ET: In August 2010 you erected the 50-kW Sky Farm turbine at the airport at Martha’s Vineyard. In September, the turbine was fully commissioned and grid-connected, and is now producing power for the Airport. What factors led you to choose this location, and what were the results of the test?

LH: When we wanted to find the location for our prototype, we needed a secure location with good wind that would give us daily access to the turbine without too much hassle. The community in Martha’s Vineyard is incredibly supportive of green energy, and the airport was ideal location. We went the manager and said, “Hey, we have a crazy idea,” and asked him if we could put our prototype there, and he said yes before we even left the room. They understand that airports use a lot of energy—not just in the fuel system of the planes, but they also use a lot of electricity for lighting and control systems.

They wanted to take the opportunity to support green energy options that help them and other airports adopt green energy. We installed the inverter and Siemens generator this summer, and we are now starting to get our energy curve. At this point, we haven’t had [the turbine] up long enough to have a full curve, but we have had it running long enough that we feel comfortable with the results we’re getting. That’s really been the most exciting thing to come out of this for us.

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1099965162 Garfield Lawrence Sr

      A very wise use for high rise rooftops in urban areas that are population denseu00a0and use an enormous amount of electricity. One of the easiest ways to make electricity is to spin something in a magnetic field, for free! Just imagine, no more blackouts! It just makes sense to me.u00a0

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1099965162 Garfield Lawrence Sr

      A very wise use for high rise rooftops in urban areas that are population denseu00a0and use an enormous amount of electricity. One of the easiest ways to make electricity is to spin something in a magnetic field, for free! Just imagine, no more blackouts! It just makes sense to me.u00a0

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1099965162 Garfield Lawrence Sr

      A very wise use for high rise rooftops in urban areas that are population denseu00a0and use an enormous amount of electricity. One of the easiest ways to make electricity is to spin something in a magnetic field, for free! Just imagine, no more blackouts! It just makes sense to me.u00a0

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    • Ruth

      Does anyone reading these comments know whether these rooftop wind turbines would generate a lot of noise, loud enough to disturb occupants of building and its surrounding buildings? u00a0

    • Oldebuzzard

      This makes a lot more sense than building windfarms in West Virginia and powerlines through Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, etc.u00a0 Generate your power where you’re going to use it – rather than destroy someone elses view and sanity and use nearly all the power you generate to transport it to the ultimate user.