Small Turbine FAQs
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 is the formal process through which the SWCC, an independent organization, performs conformity assessment of small and medium wind turbines in accordance with criteria established in industry standards. For small wind turbines, SWCC Certification is based on an evaluation of the wind turbine design and field testing (Power performance test, Acoustic sound test, Safety & Function test, and Duration test) according to the AWEA Standard. For medium wind turbines, SWCC grants Power and Acoustic performance certification per the IEC 61400 Standards.
What is the difference between the AWEA Rated Power and a Nominal Power listing for a certified turbine?
Small wind turbines certified to the AWEA Standard are required to publish the AWEA Rated Power in their specifications. This rating is the wind turbine’s power output at 11 m/s (24.6 mph) per its certified power curve. Manufacturers may still describe or name their turbine using Nominal Power. Nominal Power is designated by the manufacturer for descriptive marketing purposes.
Effective January 26, 2015, the US Federal Investment Tax Credit requires small wind turbines to be certified for taxpayers to claim the 30% tax credit. Many incentive programs require certification for distributed wind turbines to become or continue to be qualified to receive funding. For a summary see SWCC’s Incentive Eligibility page and Links to Incentive Programs that are requiring or expecting to require certification. The Database for State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) also has current information on dozens of additional state and utility policies for wind incentive programs.
Upon request, and conditional upon application for full SWCC certification, SWCC may grant optional Limited Power Performance (LPP) Certification to a small wind turbine model prior to granting full SWCC Certification. LPP Certification attests that the Power Performance testing conforms with the requirements of the AWEA Standard. LPP Certification is time-limited and will be effective for a period of not more than eighteen (18) months.
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.
For small turbines, AWEA Standard 9.1-2009 defines the following ratings except for Peak Power, which SWCC has added:
AWEA Rated Annual Energy is the calculated total energy that would be produced during a one-year period with an average wind speed of 5 m/s (11.2 mph)
AWEA Rated Sound Level is the sound pressure level (dBA) not exceeded by the wind turbine 95% of the time at a distance of 60 meters from the rotor with an average wind speed of 5 m/s (11.2 mph).
AWEA Rated Power is the wind turbine’s power output at 11 m/s (24.6 mph).
Peak Power is the highest point on the certified power curve.
For medium wind turbines, SWCC has defined the following ratings:
Reference Annual Energy is the calculated total energy that would be produced during a one-year period with an average wind speed of 5 m/s (11.2 mph).
Reference Sound Pressure Level is the sound pressure level (dBA) not exceeded by the wind turbine 95% of the time at a distance of 60 meters from the rotor with an average wind speed of 5 m/s (11.2 mph).
Reference Power is the highest point on the certified power curve at or below 11 m/s (24.6 mph). Manufacturers may still describe or name their wind turbine models using a nominal power (e.g. 50 kW E-3120).
Peak Power is the highest point on the certified power curve.
The small and medium wind ratings are similar but are not identical. For example, AWEA Rated Power is the power output at 11 m/s, but for medium wind, Reference Power is the highest point on the certified power curve at or below 11 m/s. Peak Power, Rated Power and Reference Power are illustrated below.
The medium wind ratings were developed with global harmonization in mind. AWEA Standard 9.1-2009 is currently being revised, and a draft of the new edition has been released for public comment. The syntax and definitions of the small and medium ratings are expected to align once the standard is finalized.
With SWCC certification, consumers can compare products, and funding agencies and utilities will gain greater confidence that wind turbines installed with public assistance have been tested for safety, function, performance and durability and meet requirements of consensus standards. Certification helps prevent unethical marketing and false claims, ensuring consumer protection and industry credibility.
SWCC assesses applications and issues certificates for performance and safety of wind turbines in accordance with the specified standards for each turbine category. Applicants begin the process by submitting a Notice of Intent to Submit an Application where the details of the wind turbine and proposed test plans are presented. After the turbine has been tested and evaluated per the specified standard and reporting is complete, the certification applicant submits test reports and other application materials to SWCC to complete the application process. The SWCC Certification Commission makes the final certification decision. Once a product has been certified, SWCC issues a certificate, summary report, and consumer label.
The SWCC offers the service of independent, third-party verification that a wind turbine meets the requirements of specified Standards. Applying for certification begins with a submission of a Notice of Intent to Submit an Application where the details of the wind turbine and proposed test plans are presented. For more details, see the standards page for small turbines, or the standards page for medium turbines.
The AWEA Small Wind Turbine Performance and Safety Standard (AWEA Standard 9.1 – 2009) incorporates, with modifications, existing International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards for small wind turbines. It is intended to ensure that the quality of wind turbines can be assessed while imposing only reasonable costs and difficulty on manufacturers who choose to voluntarily certify their products.
For small wind turbines, the SWCC follows the scope of eligibility as defined in the AWEA Standard. Eligible small wind turbines are currently defined as electricity-producing wind turbines with a rotor swept area of up to 200 m2 (approximately 50-65 kW).
Eligible medium wind turbines are defined as newly-manufactured, electricity-producing wind turbines with a rotor swept area greater than 200 m2.
SWCC certification applications may be submitted only by the holder of all ownership rights in and to the wind turbine (Manufacturer), or the manufacturer’s authorized designee. If the Applicant is an authorized designee, the designee must submit written proof of authorization to seek SWCC certification from the Manufacturer. SWCC will have the sole and exclusive right to determine whether such a designee is properly authorized to seek SWCC certification.
Some testing organizations are accredited to perform wind turbine testing to recognized standards and some are not. Test reports from accredited testing organizations such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will require the minimum level of scrutiny from the SWCC. Testing performed by non-accredited organizations will require a higher level of scrutiny to independently verify the test setup complies with the Standard, the competence of the organization, and the quality of the test reports. Details are available in the SWCC Certification Policy. SWCC has compiled a list of potential test organizations that intend to test small and/or medium wind turbines for the North American market. The list may not be all-inclusive. The list is not an endorsement of any test organization, only an informative list.
Yes, SWCC is accredited by A2LA. More info here: http://smallwindcertification.org/about/accreditation/
Wind tunnel testing may be useful in product development and wind turbine research, but is not permitted under AWEA nor IEC wind turbine standards. Testing must be performed in ‘free air.’
For small wind turbines, Annex H of IEC 61400-12-1 is incorporated in the AWEA Standard and provides the following guidance: “the wind turbine shall be installed using the applicant’s specified mounting system. If a wind turbine is not supplied with a specific mounting system, the generator should be mounted at a hub height of at least 10 m.”
Yes. The SWCC follows the scope of eligibility as defined in the IEC Standards which apply to electricity-producing wind turbines of all types.
No, there is no geographical limitation placed on the testing organization or test facility for SWCC certification. The testing must comply with the requirements of the specific standard. Test plans should be discussed with the SWCC as part of the Notice of Intent to Submit an Application.
SWCC works with our Applicants to setup the field testing to enable the global approach of “test once, certify everywhere.” For small wind turbines, SWCC grants time-limited “Conditional Temporary Certification” to turbines that are certified to the IEC 61400 series of Standards, the RUK Standard or the JSWTA Standard.
Payment of a non-refundable Preliminary Review Fee is required with appplicant’s submission of the Notice of Intent. This fee covers SWCC’s initial review of the wind turbine design and test plans as well as development of a tailored Certification Agreement including requirements of the structural analysis and a quote of the certification fee. SWCC quotes fees based on the actual needs of each certification applicant. See the Certification Policy and contact SWCC for more details.
If the Applicant chooses, once an SWCC Certification Agreement has been executed, the Applicant’s name and wind turbine model are listed on the SWCC website with status designations for Pending Applications: Under Contract, Under Test, or Reports Submitted.
Once certification is granted, a Summary Report, the SWCC Certificate, and for small wind turbines the SWCC Consumer Label will be made available to the public. The details of these reports are described in the SWCC Wind Certification Policies. All other testing details and certification-related information will remain confidential.
SWCC encourages applicants to submit Notices of Intent before beginning testing to ensure that all requirements are met and documentation is obtained during testing. Especially for non-accredited test sites, it is advisable for SWCC to begin the site evaluation and test witnessing early in the process in order to avoid delays and added costs.
The fees associated with testing for certification vary greatly. The SWCC recommends discussing this with your testing organization. See fees page for more information on SWCC fees.
Test reports and application materials contain sensitive details that applicants want to remain confidential. How does SWCC handle the issue of confidentiality and conflict of interest?
Certification applications, and the information contained therein, will be treated as confidential material by SWCC. The review of certification applications by SWCC staff, consultants, and Certification Commissioners will be confidential and conducted in private meetings. Each individual involved in the review of applications must agree to comply with the SWCC Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy.