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Small Turbine FAQs

Are there time limits for turbines that are seeking SWCC certification?

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.

How long will it take to certify a turbine?

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.

What is SWCC certification?

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 happens to an SWCC certification if the manufacturer goes out of business?

SWCC certification is valid so long as the certification renewal conditions listed in section M of the SWCC Small Wind Turbine Certification Policy are met. Certification must be renewed annually. If ownership of the certified wind turbine model changes, a new Certification Agreement must be signed by the new owner to maintain the validity of the certification.

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.

Does anyone require SWCC Certification?

Several incentive programs have started requiring 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.

What is Limited Power Performance (LPP) certification?

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.

What are the benefits of SWCC certification?

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.

What ratings does SWCC publish for small and medium wind turbines?

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.

Why is SWCC certification important?

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.

How does a wind turbine earn SWCC certification?

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.

Is certification required for the federal tax credit?

Not at this time. The current language in section 104 of H.R.1424 Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 defines a ‘qualifying small wind turbine’ as a wind turbine which has a nameplate capacity of not more than 100 kilowatts. Stay informed of the rapidly changing details of state and federal incentives at www.dsireusa.org

How does an SWCC certification application get started?

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.

What is the AWEA Standard?

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.

What wind turbines are eligible for SWCC certification?

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.

Who is eligible to apply for SWCC certification?

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.

Are accredited laboratories required for turbine testing?

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.

Is SWCC accredited?

Yes, SWCC is accredited by A2LA. More info here: http://smallwindcertification.org/about/accreditation/

Can wind turbines be certified using wind tunnel test results?

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.’

On what tower should our small wind turbine be tested?

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.”

Can vertical axis or building-mounted turbines apply for certification?

Yes. The SWCC follows the scope of eligibility as defined in the IEC Standards which apply to electricity-producing wind turbines of all types.

Does the testing need to be done in North America?

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.

Can multiple global certifications be pursued in addition to SWCC Certification?

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.

What will it cost to have wind turbine models certified by the SWCC?

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.

What information will be made available to the public?

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.

When should a Notice of Intent be submitted to the SWCC?

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.

What does it cost to have a wind turbine tested to the AWEA standard?

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.