Winds of Change at Logan Airport

The Massachusetts Port Authority is exploring the possibility of using wind power to generate electricity at Logan Airport. Its demonstration project—the installation of 20 building-integrated turbines at the Logan Office Center—began at the end of February. By late May, debugging was complete.

Over the next year, they’ll evaluate the project’s total electrical generation and decide whether the turbines can be used effectively throughout the entire airport. The initial data looks promising.

“We are on the harbor and anticipate that wind speed—from two to 120 miles per hour [mph]—will be enoughto generateapproximately 90,000 kilowatt hours [kWh] of electricity annually,” says Terry Civic, manager of Massport’s Utilities Contro1. “That output would be 2% of the office building’s monthly energy use, a $13,000 annual savings for Massport.”

While data collection will take 12 months, start-up and installation have offered valuable first lessons. They found that short, square rectangular buildings work best for siting the turbines, and that building location played a big role in turbine effectiveness.

“Turbines can move about 60%, which means they can actually pick up wind from behind,” Civic says. “But wind—hopefully 15 mph or more—that hits the building, and thus the turbines, face-on is best.”

The entire investment was $150,000 or $6,500 to $7,500 per turbine, each of which stands six feet tall and is eight feet at the base. With shorter support towers and reduced noise and vibration, these smaller turbines made by AeroVironment of California, adapt easily to buildings. They’re also at Duluth County Courthouse in Minnesota and Kettle Foods Factory in Wisconsin, among other spots.

Massport representatives attended an Earth Day conference in Dallas this past spring, and generated a lot of interest in their renewable energy measures. Since then, Civic learned that an airport in Manchester, U.K., has called AeroVironment to install one test turbine. “We are very interested in sharing data with other interested parties, so they can look at the technology and have raw data to evaluate,” she says.

CONTACTS: AeroVironment; Groom Energy Solutions; Massport