It’s just an idea. A great deal of small wind turbine generators can withstand  Category 1 hurricane wind speeds. [Citation: Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale]

There are, however, some small wind turbine generators installed on the Boston-Cambridge Museum of Science back in 2009 that have survival wind speeds of up to 155+mph (Category 4):

  • Mariah Power Windspire – survival wind speed – 105 mph | 47 m/s (Falls w/in the Category 2 range)
  • Cascade Engineering Swift – maximum designed wind speed – 145 mph | 64.8 m/s (Falls w/in the Category 4 range)
  • AeroVironment AVX1000 – designed to withstand 120 mph winds — good for low-aspect ratio structures (Falls w/in the Category 3 range)
  • The Proven 6 – cut-out wind speed –  >155 mph | >70 metres/second (Falls w/in the Category 4+ range)
  • Southwest Windpower SkyStream 3.7 – survival wind speed – 140 mph | 63 m/s  (Falls w/in the Category 4 range)

I wondered how they faired during Hurricane Sandy? Yes, I have made an enquiry and am awaiting a reply.

Hurricane Sandy caused some hospitals in NYC to evacuate patients, because their diesel gensets ran out of fuel. This should have NEVER happened if the hospital administrators planned better for contingencies.

Perhaps if they had had some properly designed and sited small wind turbines and PV arrays, er hybrid renewable energy systems, installed on the rooftops, coupled with back up batteries to capitalize on the indifferent forces of Mother Nature, there would not have been a need to relocate all those patients. Of course, I am not sure if this would be a pragmatic solution, since this is all contingent on the extent of the load requirements and if the wind turbines can withstand hurricane force wind. In general, I think generating electricity closer to where it will be used is a way to go, and smaller hybrid renewable energy systems is better–especially systems that can be deployed quickly and disassembled quickly.

I rather like one of my colleague’s designs, the AVX-1000, that is best sited on low aspect ratio buildings to capture the chimney effect of wind coming up the side of a building. When it’s not ‘hurricane season’ these stylish machines, should not draw as much ire from NIMBYs.

In a disaster scenario, I think implementing wind turbine generators (WTGs) is particularly elegant way to go–this turns a problem into a solution. Sure, perhaps in most locations in a city, small WTGs are not pragmatic because of all the roughness. This, however, could be the exact reason why small WTGs in the built environment can be added to the equation. When power is lost, wind is a direct or indirect cause, so there is plenty of energy for the taking, sun or no sun…

If I get a ‘moment’, or as soon as I can obtain all the pertinent data I require, I’ll post up a cost-comparison analysis of what it would cost to install a small, hybrid renewable energy system on these hospitals and compare this to a guestimated cost of what was spent to evacuate and relocate the ~1,000 patients from NYU Langone Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital Center during Hurricane Sandy. Ja, I’m a hope addict…