Guest blog by Ron Stimmel, AWEA's Manager, Legislative Affairs and Small Systems
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recently announced their selection of four organizations with which they will partner to regional centers to test small wind turbines to national and international performance standards. Each partner organization will receive funding, training, and technical support for the testing of two small wind turbines.
The organizations selected are: Intertek Testing Services NA, Inc., in New York; Kansas State University; The Alternative Energy Institute at West Texas A&M University; and Windward Engineering, LLC, in Utah.
The goal of the Regional Test Center project is to support the U.S. small wind market by increasing the number of organizations qualified to conduct small wind turbine standards testing and to lower the costs of testing. Test results are used by certification bodies, such as the Small Wind Certification Council, to certify small wind turbines for durability and performance.
Certification testing allows small wind turbine buyers to make informed choices and provides states with small-wind incentive programs data they can use to determine turbine eligibility. The test center awards are also part of an ongoing effort by DOE and NREL to support the growth of the U.S. small wind turbine market and enable U.S. manufacturers to sell their small wind turbine products abroad. (U.S. manufacturers have been very competitive in the international market, producing roughly two-thirds of of the small wind turbines sold worldwide.)
Testing is scheduled to begin later this year. Each round of testing will last approximately 12 to 18 months.