In January 2015, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued Notice 2015-4 providing new performance and quality requirements for small wind turbines – defined as having a nameplate capacity of up to 100 kW – in order to qualify for the 30% federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC).
Effective February 2, 2015, the guidance requires qualifying manufacturers to show that their wind turbines meet the requirements of either: (1) American Wind Energy Association Small Wind Turbine Performance and Safety Standard 9.1-2009 (AWEA); or (2) International Electrotechnical Commission 61400-1, 61400-12, and 61400-11 (IEC). Certification is the best way to show conformance to the requirements and must be issued by an eligible certifier, including SWCC. Documentation establishing that the wind turbine meets the new requirements must be provided to taxpayers in order to claim the tax credit.
The pathway for wind turbines with swept area of 200 m² or less is well-established and many SWCC applicants can already provide evidence of certification to AWEA Standard 9.1-2009, or are making significant progress toward this credential. To aid suppliers of wind turbines with swept areas greater than 200 m2 in conforming to the new IRS requirements, SWCC now offers a new Design Certification service according to IEC 61400-1 in addition to our existing Power and Acoustic Certification services according to IEC 61400-12-1 and IEC 61400-11. Details of this program are in Policy SWCC4, SWCC’s Medium Wind Turbine Certification Policy, which is found at http://smallwindcertification.org/swcc-policies/.
SWCC maintains an Applicant list with turbines that are actively seeking SWCC certification. Both the Small Wind Turbine Certification Policy and Wind Turbine Performance Certification Policy have an Inactivity clause (section H.6) that sets limits on how long an Applicant can remain on the list based on specific milestones. A certification application will be placed on “Inactive” status and removed from the SWCC website under the any one of the following conditions:
The turbine has not yet achieved “Under Test” status after 18 months from the “Under Contract” date;
The turbine has not yet achieved “Reports Submitted” status after two (2) years from the “Under Test” date; or
After one (1) year from the “Reports Submitted” date SWCC has not yet granted, conditionally granted, or rejected certification.
Any extensions to the time limits described above will be considered if adequate progress toward certification is demonstrated or good cause is shown, as described in writing to the Technical Director.
Testing a small wind turbine to the requirements of the AWEA Standard will take at least six months due to the requirements of the Duration Test. Depending on the wind regime in which the test facility is located, testing and reporting may take as much as 1 year to complete. The process of completing SWCC certification depends on the quality of the test reports and level of issue resolution required. SWCC certification is expected to take approximately 2 to 4 months once test reports are received. The structural analysis of the wind turbine can be performed in parallel with the field testing.
For medium wind turbines, the testing period for power and acoustics is considerably shorter. Testing and reporting may take several months to complete. The certification process is expected to take approximately 2 months once test reports are received.
Certification enables consumer comparison of the wide variety of wind turbine products on the market. Funding agencies and utilities will gain greater confidence that distributed wind turbines installed with public assistance have been tested for safety, function, performance and durability and meet requirements of consensus standards. Certification can help prevent unethical marketing and false claims, thereby ensuring consumer protection and industry credibility.