Becton Micro-Wind Turbines
Becton Hall micro-wind turbines serve as a symbol to students, faculty, staff and New Haven residents that Yale is committed to leading the way to a sustainable future.
Launched in May 2009, the Prospect Street Windmill Project involved the construction and installation of ten innovative micro-wind turbines on the roof of the Becton Engineering and Applied Science Center. The project was made possible by a donation from Matthew R. Barger, class of 1979. During his career, Mr. Barger has served in a number of roles including over 20 years as a managing partner and chair of the investment committee at Hellman & Friedman LLC, a private equity investment firm in San Francisco, California. Now retired, he is a Senior Advisor for the firm, a Director of a number of private and charitable boards, and has served on several California Advisory Committees on issues relating to public employee pensions and the environment. Already a generous supporter of athletics and the Bass Library, Mr. Barger has added his passion for the environment to the Yale legacy through his support of the micro-wind turbines, stating that “Yale is incredibly well situated to take academic research and ideas and lead by example.”
The Micro-Wind turbines are an integral demonstration of how Yale can meet its greenhouse gas reduction goal, test new technologies for future opportunities and enable students to explore first hand, the burgeoning technologies that will contribute to solving national energy issues and global climate change.
As generators of renewable energy, the turbines are one facet of Yale’s ambitious commitment to reduce greenhouse emissions to 43% below 2005 levels by 2020. Built by AeroVironment, Inc., each turbine produces up to one kilowatt of clean energy to combine into a 10kW system. At 6.5 feet tall and weighing only 60 pounds each, the horizontal axis micro-turbines demonstrate an approach to wind harvesting that is ideal for urban areas. Their compact design generates little noise and requires a breeze of just seven miles-per-hour to produce electricity. Units face almost due west, and can also self rotate 30 degrees to the north or south depending on wind direction to maximize efficiency. An energy monitor and weather station have been installed so that the turbine performance can be tracked in relation to weather conditions.
The turbines are expected to generate 26 megawatt hours of electricity annually, reducing Yale’s carbon dioxide emissions by 20,000 pounds.
In addition to their practical generation of electricity for the Becton Center, the micro-wind turbines offer a unique pedagogical benefit for the community and Yale. The turbines and real-time data have already been used as teaching tools in a number of classes run through the Department of Geology and Geophysics and the Department of Applied Physics. Professor Paul Fleury, who introduced the turbines to freshmen in a new seminar for non-science and engineering majors (‘Energy Technology & Society’), hopes that this project, among with other campus examples and sustainable energy lessons, will help shape the energy policies of the future.