Science in motion, a different kind of exhibit

Science in motion, a different kind of exhibit

BOSTON -- Spanning panoramically along New England’s Charles River sits Boston’s Museum of Science (BoS), a landmark for the state of Massachusetts. Reputable in the east for having the most amount of interactive exhibits within the building, the museum also draws attention from the exterior with a vast array of wind turbines installed on its roof.

The Museum partnered with the state’s Renewable Energy Trust to develop a Wind Turbine Lab that generates valuable performance data, which helps government officials and renewable energy professionals make informed decisions about projects and policy.

Aside from the kinetic factor of five eye-catching wind turbines, one of which being Southwest Windpower’s Skystream 3.7, the museum wanted to test a variety of commercially available small-scale wind turbines. Located in a dense urban environment, the turbines, which were installed in April 2009, serve as “a community resource for both professionals and the general public,” according to the BoS.

Knocking out the competition

The museum has tracked the progress of the five turbines installed on the roof. Amongst the Skystream 3.7 are the Windspire (Windspire Energy), Swift (Cascade Engineering), Proven 6 (Proven), and the AVX100 (AeroVironment). In the Bostonian environment, the Skystream remarkably out performed the other turbines that were installed. The information below was provided by the museum and was recorded in 2011, approximately two years after installation.

The Skystream produced consistent energy in low winds and a turbulent environment, a factor that hinders most machines of the same size. Our system produced more energy than the other turbines relative to its size and for less investment.

Turbine Diameter

Swept Area (m2)

Wind Speed (m/s) Annual Energy (kWh) Energy/swept area (kWh/m2)
Skystream 3.7 3.7 10.87 3.8 2159 198.6
Fortis Montana 5 19.60 3.8 2559 130.6
Fortis Passat 3.12 7.60 3.8 634 83.4
DonQi 2 1.77 3.8 420 237.3
Ampair 1.7 2.30 3.8 302 131.2
WRE 030 3.3 7.26 3.8 555 76.4
WRE 060 3.3 14.52 3.8 512 35.3
Energy Ball 1.1 0.80 3.8 63 78.8
Turby 2.1 5.30 3.8 165 31.1
Airdolphin 1.8 2.50 3.8 333 133.2
Raum 2.9 6.80 3.8 558 82.1
Swift 2.1 3.50 3.8 125 35.7
Black 300 1.22 1.17 3.8 * *

*Data not yet available

2010 Summary, the turbines first full-year

In 2010, the small wind turbines combined produced some 4,409 kWh of electricity for the museum. That is about 60 percent of what the average Massachusetts home uses. The BoS uses far more: about 9 GWh of electricity a year or more than 1,000 times more electricity than a MA home.

BoS reported no issues with noise, vibration, ice throw, flicker, bats or other environmental problems. There was one reported bird strike.

Reaching for the skies

Having the turbines roof-mounted not only provides a lesson in critical thinking about energy technology, the museum states, but it is a practical demonstration and laboratory for experience and data. The museum put forth a “Green Initiative” which includes conservation, recycling and other renewable energy sources.

We typically do not recommend installing any of our systems on rooftop. Please keep in mind to have your system properly sited according to the specifications of your site. Read here to learn more about how to choose a site.

Why should you care about third party testing?

Independent organizations that perform laboratory and field-tests, such as the BOS and other sites help verify our performance claims of our systems. It’s an important factor to consider when shopping around for various wind systems to help determine biased opinion from proven facts.

Related Reading:

Download PDF of the BOS Case Study

Download PDF of the Zeeland Case Study

Commercial building installs Skystream 3.7 for economic, ‘green’ appeal

Wind turbines helps the money get even green at a HSBC branch

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