The highest of any major city in the country, Boston clocks average wind speeds of 12.4 mph – and at least one company has plans to take advantage of it.

Eastern Wind Power, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, builds 50 kW vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT) and has begun measuring wind speed on the top of several buildings in the city, in an effort to study the viability of putting the turbines on the roofs to generate electricity. So far, they have installed 2 weather stations on top of the Equity Office Properties building and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, with plans in place to eight additional units throughout the city by 2013.

Based upon wind studies on the top of their own 300 foot high roof at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, EWP estimates that a wind farm consisting of ten 50 kW turbines is capable of generating 45,000 kWh of electricity per year. And since Boston (and most other major cities) has buildings much taller than just 300 feet, I imagine that’s only a baseline of how much power roof-mounted VAWTs could generate in a city. Wind speed at higher altitudes is significantly faster.

“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.”

Since September 2011, a prototype of EWP’s Sky Farm 50 kW turbine has been in operation at Martha’s Vineyard Airport, providing power for the airport and to the grid while undergoing certification. Vertical-axis wind turbines have a vertically set rotor shaft instead of a horizontal one and the mechanics are set at the base of unit rather than hundreds of feet up at the rotor. This makes them much easier to install on top of buildings and rooftops.

If EWP can make rooftop-mounted VAWTs a reality in Boston – which only has the 50th tallest building in the U.S. – then it should only be a matter of time before we see them mounted on top of the tallest: Willis Tower in Chicago and the Empire State Building in NYC.

[via Energy AOL]

Image Credit: Manu_H/Flickr