Standards and certification
Quality and Performance standards and certification
Why small wind certification and labeling?
Although small wind turbines have a great potential to serve increasing demands for distributed generation, and to provide a cost-effective solution for many homes, farms and businesses, several obstacles still hinder greater adoption of small wind turbines. These obstacles include:
- Lack of standardized performance specifications, and overly optimistic and inconsistent reports from manufacturers
- Lack of user friendly tools to compare turbines and estimate energy performance for consumers
- Insignificant assurance of safety, functionality and durability which creates a riskier investment environment for consumers and government agencies
- Few (less than half) small wind turbine models on the market have been tested
A standardized certification process with easy to understand labels that will allow consumers to make “apples-to-apples” comparisons of different small wind turbines would go a long way towards overcoming these challenges.
The Small Wind Certification Council:
The Small Wind Certification Council (SWCC) is an independent certification body, and certifies that small wind turbines meet or exceed the performance and durability requirements of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Small Wind Turbine Performance and Safety Standard. This certification provides a common North American standard for reporting turbine energy and sound performance, and helps small wind technology gain mainstream acceptance.
The SWCC will certify turbines and issue easy-to-understand labels for Rated Annual Energy Output and Rated Sound Level. The label will confirm that the turbine meets durability and safety requirements. The SWCC website (www.smallwindcertification.org) will also have a web directory that will publish Power curves, annual energy performance curves and measured sound pressure levels for each turbine that it certifies. SWCC labels will allow consumers to compare the performance, sound and durability of turbines, and will provide a crucial tool for consumers to choose the small wind turbine that is best suited to their needs. Certification will also be a crucial tool for policy makers.
The SWCC does not conduct testing of small wind turbines, but instead verifies and certifies test results submitted by testing organizations. The Wind Energy Institute of Canada in PEI is currently testing two small wind turbines for SWCC certification. (www.weican.ca)
Which small wind turbines can be certified?
The AWEA Small Wind Turbine Performance and Safety Standard only applies to turbines with a swept area of up to 200 m2, or which equates to a rated capacity of roughly 50-65 kW. Turbines with a swept area greater than 200 m2 cannot be certified by the SWCC. For customers wishing to buy these mid-sized turbines, it will be important to do some more research on the turbines by requesting more information from manufacturers, such as examples of successful installations that have been running for at least one year, as well as references from previous customers. In the absence of certification certain jurisdictions, such as New York and California, have established vendor lists which require manufacturers to provide detailed information on existing installations.
When will SWCC certified turbines be available?
As of June 2010, 12 manufacturers had applications pending for certification of 14 turbine models. It is estimated that it takes approximately 1 year to test and certify turbines. It is estimated that the first certified turbines should be on the market by fall 2010, with a larger number of certified turbines available by early 2011.
Various standards are maintained for quality-control and safety. Typically, users do not need to be well-versed in these standards, except for CAN/CSA-F429-M90 if users are installing turbines themselves. Regardless, it may be useful to be familiar when you’re speaking to manufacturers, installers, maintenance crews, and utilities.
Following are the International Electrotechnical Commission’s (IEC) international wind turbine-related standards:
- IEC 61400-1 - Wind Turbine Safety and Design
- IEC 61400-2 - Small Wind Turbine Safety
- IEC 61400-12 - Power Performance
- IEC 61400-11 - Noise Measurement
- IEC 61400-13 - Mechanical Load Measurements
- IEC 61400-22 - Wind Turbine Certification
- IEC 61400-23 - Blade Structural Testing
- IEC 61400-21 - Power Quality