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What's the hold up?
Test Site Evaluations
Promoting Small and Mid-size Turbine Certification
New Officers & Board Members
Upcoming Events
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SWCC thanks the U.S. Department of Energy, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and other sponsors for financial assistance they have provided to SWCC to assist with the start-up of the small wind turbine certification program.
Click here for a list of all SWCC funders.

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March 2012


Larry Sherwood

Together with our applicants, the Small Wind Certification Council (SWCC) is diligently working to help create a strong industry and promote consumer confidence in small wind technology. We are well on track to help meet the recently established U.S. Department of Energy goal to reach 40 turbine designs certified by 2020, with an initial milestone of five designs certified by this September.


Our applicants are making progress toward our own internal milestones: out of the 29 turbine models actively under contract with SWCC, two have achieved full certification, three have achieved SWCC Conditional Temporary Certification based on their certified status under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme in the UK, and 13 others have either started or completed testing.


Testing activities and discussions are providing invaluable lessons learned, and ratings of fully SWCC-certified designs are aiding incentive programs with eligibility determinations and payment levels and leading toward national requirements.


We are working with each Applicant to facilitate the process and to push forward and ensure that SWCC is not the cause of delays. Our Certification Commission, renewed governing Board, organizational structure and staffing stand poised and ready to quickly process several additional testing reports expected in the coming weeks and months, spurred in part by the new Interstate Turbine Advisory Council.


As always, I'm available if you have questions or comments about SWCC activities.  


Blue Wind Left 

Larry Sherwood
Executive Director
Green Wind Left

What's the hold up? What are we learning from testing and certification of small wind turbines? 


Small wind turbine certification activities have increased dramatically since the adoption of the AWEA Small Wind Turbine Performance and Safety Standard and SWCC's launch in 2010. Numerous organizations across the nation are offering field testing for small wind certification. But now that it is 2012, why have only two turbines been granted SWCC certification?


Testing and reporting takes time, even when all goes well Field testing required for full certification to the AWEA Standard often takes more than a year to complete. The Duration Test typically determines the length of field testing. This test requires a minimum of 6 months to assess the structural integrity, environment protection and dynamic behavior of the turbine. Turbines must achieve an operational time fraction of at least 90% for 2,500 operating hours in a range of wind speeds with no major failures, significant degradation of components, or degradation in power production. The testing organization must also complete an Acoustic test as well as Power Performance and Safety & Function tests. In addition, the manufacturer must complete the structural analysis of the turbine design. Once the final test reports are submitted, SWCC typically makes certification decisions within 2-4 months.


The entire certification process can be completed within a year, but may take as long as 12-18 months. Issues that affect the timeframe include turbine architecture, methods used to perform the structural analysis, the test site's wind regime, the wind turbine's chosen class, and the maturity of the turbine design.


Design evolution  

Once turbines begin formal testing, manufacturers learn more about their design. For relatively new turbine designs, the initial field testing often becomes a continuation of product development. As data are collected and experiences gained, designs often evolve. This evolution can involve numerous small changes and improvements, redesigned components, or if major events occur at the test site, it may be back to the drawing board. Mature designs with considerable operating hours in the field typically see fewer and only minor changes.


The AWEA Standard states that "any changes to a certified wind turbine that could materially affect the results of the Duration Test will require retesting." SWCC must pay close attention to all design changes.  Significant changes to the turbine design often require that testing be restarted.


Progress is being made   

Eighteen of the 29 turbine models that have started the SWCC certification process have reached the milestone of Under Test, meaning that field testing is either completed or in progress. Before the recent push for certification, early adopters of small wind technology may have served as de facto test sites, helping fine tune turbine designs. Now, testing is administered by industry professionals.


With state program budget cuts, the turbulent economy and uncertain market conditions, some manufacturers are finding they need additional time to cover testing costs and complete certification. The lessons learned by all parties through the process, which may seem to move slowly, are invaluable in protecting the small wind customer and the future of the industry.

Green Wind Right

Test Site Evaluations Reveal Lessons 

When SWCC applicants choose to have their field testing performed by a non-accredited testing organization, SWCC's Technical Director performs an on-site test site evaluation to document the suitability and competence of the testing organization.

SWCC uses two checklists: one for the AWEA Standard and one that contains relevant sections of ISO/IEC 17025. The first involves documenting technical aspects of the testing, including: the turbine wire run; the location and configuration of the meteorological mast; an assessment of obstacles and terrain; and the specifications and calibrations of equipment such as anemometers, power transducers, the sound level meter, and data acquisition system. The 17025 checklist focuses on management aspects of the testing, including: written test procedures; job descriptions, training and qualifications of testing personnel; handling of data and records; and the quality assurance procedures used by the lab.


To date SWCC has performed six test site evaluations. Lessons the active testing organizations have learned include:  

  • It is best to use a form to document the dynamic observations during the Duration Test, which is well-described in IEC 61400-2;
  • Although optional for field testing, rotor speed (RPM) should be measured and logged to verify design data;
  • During the Duration Test, Operational Time Fraction and power degradation should be checked and documented monthly; and
  • Regular communication between the manufacturer, the testing organization and the certification body is important. 
David Carr setting up a data logger at the WTAMU site in Canyon, TX
Blue Wind Left
DWEA and ITAC Promote Certification for Small and Mid-Size Turbines


The Mid-Size and Federal Policy Committees of the Distributed Wind Energy Association (DWEA) have developed detailed recommendations for the Internal Revenue Service and have contacted members of Congress encouraging the adoption of mandatory certification requirements to be eligible for the 30 percent federal Investment Tax Credit for systems with rotor areas up to 200 m2 installed after June 20, 2012, and for systems with larger rotors rated up to 100 kW installed after December 31, 2012.


The new Interstate Turbine Advisory Council (ITAC) is moving in a similar path, targeting a release of the first version of their Unified List of turbine models up to 200 m2 swept area that meet the performance and durability expectations of state incentive programs by May 1, 2012, to coincide with the certification deadline set by the Energy Trust of Oregon. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) announced it will also begin utilizing the ITAC list for incentive eligibility screening immediately, and programs in California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, and Wisconsin plan to follow suit.


In addition to power performance, duration testing, and acoustics certification, ITAC is reviewing warranties, maintenance support, response time, customer service, and outstanding issues with dealers. While some designs currently eligible for state incentive programs may be included temporarily, the initial version of the Unified List may be short, and ITAC plans release an updated version also covering mid-size turbines later in 2012.


ITAC is seeking additional state agency and utility members to join as both voting and non-voting members and has launched a  listserv for all stakeholders to stay up to date on evolving requirements for incentives.

Blue Wind Right
SWCC Welcomes New Officers and Board Members 


Results of SWCC's recent board election bring new leadership: Trudy Forsyth is stepping in as President of the Board, David Blittersdorf is serving as Treasurer, and Tal Mamo from Talco Electronics and Mark Mayhew of NYSERDA have joined as general Board members.   


TalMamoTal Mamo holds an Electrical Engineering degree from Cal Poly Pomona. Since founding Talco Electronics in 2000, Mamo has evolved the company to the only wholesale distributor that is solely focused on the small wind market. His passion and knowledge of wind has put him at the forefront of the industry. He travels throughout the country training new and existing small wind installers on proper installation techniques as well as wind theory and siting. With his business experience and knowledge, he is working hard to professionalize Talco's dealer network as well as the entire small wind industry. Recently Mamo has been working with California State Senators, the California Governor's office and local politicians to improve incentive programs and educate elected officials on the benefits of wind power and what needs to be done to enable more small wind installations throughout the state.


MarkMayhewMark Mayhew has been employed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for the last 15 years, where he leads the On-Site Wind Turbine Incentive Program. His responsibilities include reviewing and approving installer, turbine, and customer incentive applications. He was also responsible for molding the program into its current design. His past roles include overseeing the Energy Audit Program, the FlexTech Commercial Feasibility Study Program, the Commercial Gas Incentive Program, and the PV Incentive Program.

Green Wind Left
Upcoming Webinars and Events

The organizers of the First International Small Wind Association of Testers (SWAT) Conference are producing a series of free webinars to provide an introduction to small wind turbine certification and testing.  The organizers recommend that anyone new to the field of small wind turbine certification attend or replay the webinars prior to the conference. The webinars will all be available for replay at  www.windpoweringamerica.gov/podcasts_webinar.asp


The first webinar, sponsored by the ASES Wind Division, provided an overview Introduction to Small Wind Turbine Certification and was presented by Tony Jimenez  of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The second webinar covered Small Wind Turbine Standards, Safety & Function Testing, presented by Jeroen van Dam and Ismael Mendoza of NREL. Upcoming webinars are scheduled for:

  • Tuesday, March 27, 2012, 10:00 - 11:15 MDT: Duration Testing presented by Mendoza;
  • Tuesday, April 3, 2012, 10:00 - 11:00 MDT: Power Performance Testing presented by Arlinda Huskey of NREL; and
  • Thursday, April 12, 2012, 11:30-1:00 MDT: Acoustic Noise Testing presented by Huskey.

For login details and information on other upcoming events of interest to small wind certification stakeholders, see the SWCC calendar.