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Small Wind Standards Beneficial for Manufacturers, Consumers

Small Wind Standards Beneficial for Manufacturers, Consumers

Date: 4/2/2014

Source: Seanica Otterby, National Association of Farm Broadcasters

Audio with Trudy Forsyth, Wind Advisors Team Managing Director. (MP3 3.1 MB). Download Windows Media Player. Time: 00:03:23.

In the U.S., the small wind turbine industry created a standard under the American Wind Energy Association on small wind turbine performance and safety called AWEA 9.1. Wind Advisors Team Managing Director Trudy Forsyth says there are many products in the small wind turbine market that don't have credentials and commercial liability, which makes it difficult for consumers to determine which machines are truly commercial and which are not. That's why Forsyth says a small wind turbine standard is important.

The International Electrotechnical Commission standards guide the design of all wind turbines developed by industry experts. Forsyth says the IEC standard has been used as the basis of the AWEA standard, similar to what other countries have done.

"There's a strong link to the international standard, really because it's the most thorough and direct standard that exists. But because some of the issues are outside of international purview, for example electrical design, there's not a lot of requirements in the IEC standard because the electrical grid is so different around the world. And that means that there need to be electrical-specific standards that relate to the country where you're having the certified turbines."

Forsyth says the AWEA standard is made of a subset of existing IEC standards, which allows manufacturers access to other incentivized markets.

Small wind turbine manufacturing has the potential to create American jobs and spark a homegrown industry. Forsyth says standards help stabilize the market, from a product perspective, giving consumers more assurance in the quality of the wind turbine they purchase.

"With that surety, it's easier for consumers to make purchase decisions. As consumers do make purchase decisions, the amount of product or the amount of small wind turbines that get purchased increases, and with that increases the jobs of manufacturing, as well as the jobs of installation. We've found that the installation jobs are really country-specific and far more relevant just in terms of the broad number of jobs experienced by people involved in the small wind turbines."

The Small Wind Certification Council offers certification in the U.S. and also creates a consumer label, which Forsyth says is a simplified way to compare different turbine products. She says the label originated with the international experts who created the IEC standards, which provides uniformity around the world.

"It gives you information in terms of kilowatt-hour production the machine is likely to produce given the same set of conditions. And that enables a purchase decision. It also has some acoustic information and turbine rating information, as well as who is giving the certificate, who has done the test work that's the basis of the certificate as well."

Forsyth notes that while the consumer label is based only on test results, a certificate is based on test results and design load validation.

For more information on these standards, visit www.smallwindcertification.org or www.iec.ch.

This information was last updated on April 03, 2014