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Regional Test Centers

To increase the availability of small wind turbine testing and share field expertise, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and NREL initiated the Regional Test Center (RTC) project in 2009. The project ended in early 2016. During the project, DOE and NREL subsidized certification testing of two small wind turbines at each RTC. In addition, NREL provided technical assistance during the testing and data analysis process. The project goal is for the RTCs to be self-sustaining, independent entities capable of providing certification testing services to the small wind turbine industry.

NREL's RTC partners are:

Background

A 2006 survey of small wind stakeholders revealed a need for both small wind turbine certification and small wind turbine certification testing beyond what was available at NREL’s National Wind Technology Center (NWTC). Certification enables consumers to make informed apples-to-apples comparisons so that they can select quality turbines. Certification also provides the data needed to objectively determine turbine eligibility for state incentive funds.

Since 2006, the following activities have taken place:

  • The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) released the Small Wind Turbine Performance and Safety Standard.
  • The Small Wind Certification Council (SWCC) and Intertek offer small wind certification services.
  • The Interstate Turbine Advisory Council (ITAC) offers a Unified List of wind turbines that have been fully certified to AWEA’s Small Wind Turbine Performance and Safety Standard or have met Microgeneration Certification Scheme requirements for small turbines. In addition, these turbines have been fully vetted by ITAC and meet ITAC’s warranty and business performance criteria.

Turbines Tested Under the Project

Regional Test Center Turbines Additional Information
Intertek (Otisco, New York) WTIC Jacobs 21-20 (20 kilowatts [kW]) Test reports available at
http://www.intertek.com/wind/small/rtc/
Fortis Montana (5 kW)
Windward Engineering (Spanish Fork, Utah) Endurance S-343 (5 kW)  
Windspire Windspire (1.2 kW)
Alternative Energy Institute — West Texas A&M (Canyon, Texas) Nikko 1-kW Turbine  
Potencia Hummingbird (10 kW)
Kansas State University/Colby Community College (Colby, Kansas) Pika 1 kW Test Reports available at
http://wac.ece.ksu.edu/?q=node/13
Dakota DT-30 (30 kW)

Small Wind Turbine Testing Workshops

Since 2008, NREL has helped organize or participated in a series of annual small wind turbine testing workshops as part of its outreach to the broader small wind turbine testing community. Originally held at the NWTC, recent workshops have been planned and hosted by various RTC partners. Some workshops have also been coordinated with the International Energy Agency (IEA) to create a forum, known as the Small Wind Association of Testers (SWAT), for testing entities in different countries to exchange information and best practices.

Workshop topics have included:

  • International Electrotechnical Commission standards for certification and testing of small wind turbines
  • AWEA standard for small wind turbine safety and performance
  • Test site selection, development, and assessment
  • Small wind turbine test procedures
  • Independent test project results
  • Lessons learned in siting and testing
  • Data acquisition systems
  • Data collection, processing, and analysis
  • Acoustic noise emissions testing
  • Small turbine testing updates from other countries.

Previous Small Wind Association of Testers Workshop Proceedings

Year Location Host or Organizer Additional Information
2008 NWTC
(Boulder, Colorado)
NREL Regional Test Centers: Workshop Presentations
2009 NWTC
(Boulder, Colorado)
NREL  
2010 NWTC
(Boulder, Colorado)
NREL  
2011 Canyon, Texas AEI/West Texas A&M Held in conjunction with U.S. SWAT Conference
2012 Ithaca, New York Intertek Pre-conference webinars (webinars presented between March 1, 2012 and May 3, 2012) are available.
2013 NWTC
(Boulder, Colorado)
NREL  
2015 NWTC
(Boulder, Colorado)
NREL Held in conjunction with International SWAT Conference

For more information about the Regional Test Centers, contact Robert Preus or Tony Jimenez.