The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.

Turbine Testing: Setting Standards for Smaller Devices

A global surge in small and medium-sized wind turbines is setting challenges for testing and will require new standards and certification in the UK and elsewhere.

As small and medium-sized wind turbines steadily become more popular worldwide, so does the need for confidence in their ability to perform as designed, both safely and reliably. This has resulted in a complex and challenging testing and certification regime. So what are these testing challenges and how can they be best tackled?

The testing criteria for small and medium-sized wind turbines are largely driven by international standards. For example, the UK's Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) - which covers wind turbines with a rated power of less than 50 kW and a rotor swept area less than 200 m2 - places heavy reliance on the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA) Small Wind Turbine Performance and Safety Standard, which in turn references a number of international standards in the IEC 61400 series.

Not-dissimilar criteria exist in the US and Canada, but rely on the AWEA 9.1 Standard instead. The Small Wind Certification Council (SWCC) is the body currently leading activity on this in North America.

Both the BWEA and AWEA standards are underpinned by and rely on IEC 61400-2: 2006, which provides the design criteria for small wind turbines. The 'dash 2' standard gives guidance on the design of a small wind turbine using either a simplified load approach or a more detailed and complex aero-elastic modelling approach, or a combination of the two.

The standard is applicable to the design of both horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWT) and vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT). In addition, there is a requirement to test the durability and safety and function of the turbine.

Standards to come

The next edition of the standard (Edition 3: 201x) is due to be published shortly. To deliver this next edition, an IEC maintenance team has been working very intensively for two years and has reviewed many of the criteria in the light of lessons learned and current best practice.

The resulting new version of the standard will give greater guidance, among other things, on the use of the simplified load approach and dealing with extreme wind conditions.

The performance of the turbine is assessed against the criteria in IEC 61400-12-1: 2006, the power performance standard, and IEC 61400-11: 2003, the acoustic performance standard. An evaluation of both of these aspects is crucial in determining a turbine's suitability for a particular wind regime, purpose and location.

Defining medium wind requirements

A UK Medium Wind Standard is currently at the draft stage and is scheduled to be published before the end of this year. Moving forward, it is hoped the international community will address the perceived issues with medium-sized turbines to make a UK standard unnecessary. While medium-sized turbines are unlikely to be the mainstay of wind farms of the future, they are likely to play a significant part in distributed and community wind projects, which means an appropriate standard supported by government incentives is likely to benefit all stakeholders in the longer term.

Alistair Mackinnon is operations manager wind energy at NEL, which is part of the TÜV SÜD Group.

Image: Small wind turbine via Shutterstock


May Dividends Rise: Ten Clean Energy Stocks For 2015

Tom Konrad, Contributor My Ten Clean Energy Stocks for 2015 model portfolio had a good May, despite headwinds from the strengthening dollar and declines in clean energy stocks in general.  As a whole, the model portfolio rose 2.2% for th...

Making the Most Energy from the Wind

Jennifer Runyon, Chief Editor There is an old piece of wisdom that states: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." But some wind farm operators, especially in Germany and North America, are finding that advice difficult to heed. That's because tech...
Slow down sign

Reality Check: Maybe Energy Storage Isn't Ready for Prime Time

Meg Cichon, Associate Editor Highlighting the growth of the energy storage market at the at the 2015 Energy Storage Association Conference in Dallas, Texas, Oncor’s  VP of Transmission Operations Wes Speed compared the industry to the Texas rain: ...
Risk and reward

Managing the Risks of Renewable Energy Projects in Developing Countries

Jeffrey Karp, Jim Wrathall and Morgan Gerard, Sullivan & Worcester Driven by rapid expansion in developing countries, renewables are becoming a significant source of the world’s power.  According to the United Nations Environmental Programme’s (UNEP) 9th “Global Trends in Renewable En...


Volume 18, Issue 3


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @megcichon @jennrunyon



Doing Business in Brazil – in partnership with GWEC, the Global Win...

Brazil is one of the most promising markets for wind energy.  Ranke...

Mastering RETScreen® 4 for Clean Energy Project Analysis

Hands-on modeling class using RETScreen 4. Michael Ross designed this co...


RECAM WEEK will bring together the incredibly successful SPG Central Am...


SunEdison Expands Residential Market Offerings with New PPA, Sales ...

SunEdison has largely focussed on the commercial and utility-scale solar...

Deadline for Inclusion in Solar Power World's Top Solar Contractors...

UPDATE: The official deadline for the Solar Power World T...

Are You Ready for a Natural Disaster?

Guest post by Jenna Clarke  Living in the Shenandoah Valley of Virg...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now