Standards for small-scale wind power in development

The American Wind Energy Assn. is developing standards to measure the safety, reliability, and performance of small wind turbines.


The American Wind Energy Assn. (AWEA) is developing standards for small-scale and rooftop wind turbines, which typically are designed for individual homes, farms, and small businesses, and produce 100 kW of electricity or less. AWEA hopes to establish these standards for safety, reliability, and performance by the end of the year. The newly formed Small Wind Certification Corp. will administer the standards.

Once in place, standards will hopefully compel manufacturers to test their turbines, for example, to demonstrate their reliability to operate continuously for 2,500 hrs (including 25 hrs when the wind speed is in excess of 33 mph). Other tests could ensure that turbines don't exceed a certain decibel level while operating, or are capable of shutting down in extremely high winds, which can be dangerous.

John Dunlop, AWEA senior project engineer, cautions that while the standards would help the industry gain credibility, there are several things it won't do.

"It's not going to make turbines more efficient," he said. "If someone puts a highly efficient turbine in a low-wind location, it's still not going to produce any energy. We want to create standards that will allow consumers to know what they're getting."

Read more about the building-integrated wind debate .

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