NREL Removes Initial Barrier to Distributed Wind Turbine Certification

Certification of Small- and Medium-Sized Wind Turbines Helps Increase Consumer Confidence by Verifying Technology Meets International Standards

Feb. 1, 2023 | By Carol Laurie | Contact media relations

Certification is an important step before wide commercial deployment of small- and medium-scale wind turbines that produce distributed wind energy, which is used in homes, schools, farms, and remote communities at or near where it is generated. But certification is also a complicated and costly process that can be tricky for smaller companies like QED Wind Power, whose Phoenix 20-kilowatt wind turbine system is currently undergoing certification.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) just made the process easier.

A wind turbine in a grassy field with people, vehicles, and equipment at its base
QED Wind Power’s 20-kilowatt wind turbine model is undergoing certification by the International Code Council’s Small Wind Certification Council wind turbine program. Funding from NREL will cover preliminary certification reviews for manufacturers like QED, helping reduce the barriers to certification and ensuring turbine certification readiness. Photo from QED Wind Power

By funding the International Code Council’s Small Wind Certification Council (ICC-SWCC) to cover the cost of preliminary reviews for certification applicants, NREL is helping ensure that turbine designs are ready to successfully complete the certification process.

“NREL subcontracted ICC-SWCC to fund preliminary certification reviews, thus removing a cost barrier and encouraging more turbine manufacturers to start the certification process,” said Brent Summerville, NREL’s Competitiveness Improvement Project (CIP) technical lead. “This will place more turbines in the certification pipeline and provide companies with technical feedback on certification readiness in a timely fashion.”

NREL support enables ICC-SWCC to waive the $3,000 fee for preliminary certification reviews, which confirm eligibility and specific certification requirements. The ICC-SWCC subcontract runs through Nov. 30, 2024.

A wind turbine against a blue sky and clouds.
NREL is covering the cost of precertification reviews for small wind turbine manufacturers like QED Wind Power, whose 20-kilowatt Phoenix wind turbine is shown here. Photo from QED Wind Power 

“NREL’s funding will provide the incentive for more small- and medium-scale wind turbine manufacturers to start the certification process, which is critical to the success of the distributed wind energy technology industry,” said ICC-SWCC Vice President of Technical Services Shawn Martin. “Ultimately, we hope this helps move designs to commercialization faster and leads to more turbines being deployed sooner.”

ICC-SWCC, a program of ICC Evaluation Service, is the only U.S. certification body focused on certification of distributed wind turbine technology. For manufacturers, ICC-SWCC certification:

  • Ensures product certifications are consistent with international standards and based on objective testing and evaluation
  • Increases mainstream credibility of distributed wind energy technologies
  • Shows conformity with performance and safety standards
  • Provides proof of certification required by incentive and rebate programs.

Funding for the ICC-SWCC subcontract came through CIP, which NREL manages on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy Wind Energy Technologies Office. CIP awards competitive cost-shared subcontracts and technical support to manufacturers of small- and medium-sized wind turbines.

In 2020, QED Wind Power received a CIP award to pursue ICC-SWCC certification of its 20-kilowatt Phoenix wind turbine, which will allow customers to take advantage of new federal and, where applicable, state wind power incentives. This will, in turn, expand QED Wind Power’s ability to manufacture and distribute its turbine in larger national markets.

Manufacturers with technology they want to develop and certify are encouraged to contact ICC-SWCC for further information.

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Tags: Wind