Small wind turbines have been booming, as we’ve reported a few times this year. But, up to now, there hasn’t been much independent evaluation of how well these small turbines perform, or how safe they are. Apparently, that’s changing.
Bergey Windpower, “the nation’s oldest manufacturer of small wind turbines,” announced this week that its “best-selling” BWC Excel 10 wind turbine has now received full “AWEA Small Wind Turbine Performance and Safety Standard” certification — it’s the first to get this certification.
“This new standard is the most significant milestone in the history of the small wind industry because it provides, for the first time, third-party verification of real world performance and a highly technical review of a turbine’s strength and safety,” said Mike Bergey, president of Bergey Windpower and the 2011 president of the Distributed Wind Energy Association. “This is huge for consumers because it addresses the ‘hucksters and hype’ problem in the small wind marketplace. We are very proud to be the first to achieve this game-changing certification.” Agreed.
More from the news release:
The Bergey Excel 10 is a 23 ft diameter horizontal-axis turbine designed to provide the annual energy requirements for homes, farms, and small businesses. More than 2,000 Excel turbines have been installed in 46 states and more than 50 countries. It has only three moving parts, requires no annual maintenance, and was the first small wind turbine to carry a 10-year warranty. Excel owners include hundreds of homeowners and farmers, schools, museums, state and federal parks, all branches of the U.S. military, major corporations, and a number of celebrities. One very happy customer is Gus Sansone of Oak Hills, CA, “I installed my Bergey 10 kW in 2001. I haven’t paid an electric bill since the turbine was installed and it’s paid for itself. It’s the best investment I ever made.”The AWEA standard was developed over a five year period by a committee of over 30 individuals drawn from industry, research organizations, universities, retailers, and users. The U.S. standard, which references a number of existing international (IEC) standards, has been adopted in Canada and, with some minor changes, in the United Kingdom. “For consumers the primary benefit is the establishment of a set of easy to understand and accurate ratings that allow, for the first time, direct comparisons of one wind turbine’s performance against another. The hype and exaggeration of untested, “innovative” designs have harmed the distributed wind business. Too many consumers have been disappointed. Certification will go a long ways towards fixing that,” said Jennifer Jenkins, executive director of the Distributed Wind Energy Association (www.distributedwind.org), the national trade association for small wind.Certification of the Excel 10 turbine was granted by the Small Wind Certification Council (SWCC – www.smallwindcertification.org), an independent organization funded by several states and the U.S. Department of Energy. “SWCC was set up to ensure that the reviews and the granting of small wind turbine certifications were held to the highest standards, so that consumers could be confident in the results,” said Larry Sherwood, executive director of the SWCC. “It’s a big burden for manufacturers, but it’s something the states with rebate programs have wanted for years – a way to ensure that the public’s money goes towards effective equipment. We have 27 turbine models from 24 manufacturers in line for certification, so I think manufacturers recognize the value of certification.” California, New York, Oregon and Wisconsin, which provide substantial rebates for small wind turbines, now require partial or full certification to the AWEA standard and a number of other states plan to do the same.“I think SWCC has done a great job with the labeling. All of the complexities of testing, performance prediction, and noise production have been boiled down to an easy to understand set of ratings. It’s like the EPA Estimated Gas Mileage for wind turbines,” noted Mr. Bergey. “How much power? How much energy? How much noise? These are the questions consumers have, but haven’t always gotten straight answers for until now.” The AWEA standard sets the rated wind speed for turbines so that they can be accurately compared and it establishes a more revealing and valuable performance rating, the AWEA Rated Annual Energy (RAE). “Our Excel 10 carries an AWEA RAE of 13,800 kWh. A potential customer can now compare that with a competing certified turbine’s RAE and know that it will produce a certain percentage more or less energy at their site. They could never do that confidently before.” Details of the Bergey Excel 10 certification and ratings are available at http://www.smallwindcertification.org/applicant-turbines/bergey-excel.