Measuring the Wind
Harvard's largest wind power study ever is now underway. Engineering and Utilities (E&U) began planning for the complex project back in 2006, and now the structure stands tall as a symbol of Harvard's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
"The data we collect from the MET tower will help decide where, and if, a wind turbine could generate some of the University's electricity," said Engineering & Utilities Manager of Energy Supply and Utility Administration Mary Smith. The MET tower is located just south of the Beren Tennis facility and it's equipped with anemometers, or wind meters, to measure wind speed and direction.
Several engineering students and a faculty member from the University of Massachusetts' Renewable Energy Research Lab, which promotes education and research in renewable energy technologies, spent two days assembling the giant structure. They started off by sledge-hammering four foot steel tubes together until the tower was 167-feet long. The anemometers were then mounted and the 12 guy wires that hold the tower in place were attached. On day two, the most delicate maneuver of the project began. A winch slowly hoisted the tower upright. "When you're dealing with something that tall, you need to be very deliberate. The crew spent hours lifting it literally inches at a time, making sure the tower was always properly balanced and anchored," said Mary.
Wind data will be collected over the next 12-18 months and the information will be periodically transmitted to a remote location using cellular technology. The data will also be made available to organizations across the region interested in pursuing wind power.
The MET tower project is just an example of the leadership role UOS is playing to ensure the University reaches its recently released greenhouse gas reduction (GHG) targets. Harvard is committed to reducing GHG emissions 30% by the year 2016. This is a very aggressive goal and clearly the way UOS buys, generates, and supplies energy will be critical to success.