It has long been a goal of many in the small wind industry to certify wind turbines so that consumers can accurately compare the wide variety of wind turbine products on the market. With certification, funding agencies and utilities can have confidence that distributed wind turbines installed with public assistance have been tested for safety, function, performance and durability and meet agreed-upon standards. Certification can help prevent unethical marketing and false claims, thereby ensuring consumer protection and industry credibility.

10 kW Bergey wind turbine on 120 tower
Photo courtesy NREL image gallery

The process of certifying wind turbines involves establishing hardware performance standards, conducting tests, and certification by an independent certification body.  All parts are necessary to implement certification.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) adopted the Small Wind Turbine Performance and Safety Standard in 2009, establishing a common North American framework for reporting wind turbine energy and sound performance. This standard is currently undergoing revision and will become a U.S. National Standard once completed.

Currently two organizations, the Small Wind Certification Council [SWCC] and Intertek, award certifications to qualified small wind turbines, providing independent confirmation by an accredited certification body that the wind turbine has been tested and designed according to the requirements of the AWEA Standard.  Turbines that have met the AWEA standard and have been certified are listed in the right sidebar.

States are now using certification to help determine eligibility for various state-run programs and incentives. The Interstate Turbine Advisory Council [ITAC] maintains a list of turbines that have been fully certified to the AWEA standard or have met Microgeneration Certification Scheme requirements for small turbines. In addition, these turbines have been fully vetted by ITAC and additionally meet ITAC’s warranty and business performance criteria. This list of small and medium wind turbines is commonly referred to as the Unified List. See the detailed list at this link. Note that ITAC lists both small and medium wind turbines, but the AWEA standard applies only to small wind turbines.

Work is currently being done to update and achieve international harmonization of standards, testing and certification. SWCC is working with other wind certification programs in Europe, Asia and North America to minimize the differences between country-specific requirements in order to address a well-recognized market barrier.

With the progress that’s been made in certifying small wind turbines, consumers can now use certification as a criteria for selecting a turbine that is right for their needs.