Certifying small wind turbines to meet established testing standards helps ensure consumer protection and promote small wind industry credibility by verifying data on wind turbine safety, function, performance, and durability. Not only does it allow the consumer or installer to evaluate turbines on a level playing field, it also helps prevent deceptive marketing and false claims. Various state renewable energy funding agencies now use certification to help determine a turbine’s suitability within their incentive programs.
Various testing standards are in place around the world. For example, the AWEA 9.1 standard was developed for North America. In the U.K., the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) uses the Renewable U.K. Small Wind Standard. Because manufacturers of wind turbines typically operate internationally, global harmonization efforts are underway with a goal best described as “test once, certify everywhere.” Reciprocity agreements between certification bodies help ensure that much of the work performed by one party is acceptable for certification by the other.
The newly formed Interstate Turbine Advisory Council (ITAC), an alliance of state clean energy programs and utility incentive providers, maintains the Unified List of Wind Turbines. Turbines on this list must be certified to either AWEA or MCS standards, and must also meet ITAC’s warranty and business performance criteria.
Once turbine testing is complete, the test data is then examined by a certification body, such as the Small Wind Certification Council (SWCC), Intertek, or TUV—a European certification organization. If the turbine has successfully met all the qualifications, a summary report is generated, which includes a turbine’s rated power, annual energy production, power and energy curves, acoustic data, and duration testing, as well as a mechanical strength analysis, and safety and function testing.