Product Review

Certification Gets Small Wind Turbine Market Turning

Turning night and day, a wind turbine can make electricity when solar panels can’t; perched on a tower over a green building, it can be poetry in motion. Unfortunately, performance depends a lot on the right site, which can be hard to come by. And while growing 26% annually in one recent period, the small wind market has been plagued by low-quality products and exaggerated claims from manufacturers. One study, a 2008 report on 19 small wind turbines installed in Massachusetts, found 60% worse performance than predicted (see “The Folly of Building-Integrated Wind,” EBN May 2011). A new wind is blowing in the small wind market, though: a reputable certification is being adopted, making it easier for consumers to understand their options, while new and old financing options are making it easier for consumers to consider small wind turbines.

Standard 9.1-2009 was developed by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) to eliminate misleading manufacturer claims and make it easier for consumers to accurately compare small wind turbines, which are defined as having a rotor swept area of up to 200 m2 (a radius of approximately 8m, or 26 ft.), usually with no more than 50–60 kW capacity. The standard has just begun to catch on, with two turbines certified to date and more on the way this year.


This photo shows production of the Skystream 3.7.

Published April 30, 2012