By establishing consistent consumer ratings and
helping incentive programs determine eligibility,
the Small Wind Certification Council’s certifications
go a long way toward growing the market.
by larry sHerwood, Brent summerville
and HeatHer rHoads-weaver
VOL. 26, NO. 2
Copyright © 2012 by the American Solar Energy Society Inc. All rights reserved.
In a move that allows consumers easier com- parison shopping and is helping small wind turbines gain mainstream acceptance, the Small Wind Certification Council (SWCC)
has issued its first full certifications. It certified
the Bergey Windpower Excel 10 in November
and the Southwest Windpower Skystream 3. 7 in
December, verifying their compliance with the
American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)
Small Wind Turbine Performance and Safety
Standard (AWEA Standard 9.1-2009). These
certifications and labels are a major leap toward
establishing consistent consumer ratings and
aiding incentive programs with determining
Despite small wind turbines’ potential to
provide cost-effective distributed generation for
many homes, farms, schools and other end uses,
several obstacles have hindered adoption:
• Performance specifications are not standardized, and manufacturer reports are optimistic and inconsistent;
• Consumers lack user-friendly tools for comparing turbines or accurately estimating energy
• Consumers and agencies providing financial incentives need greater assurance of safety,
functionality and durability to justify investments; and,
• Fewer than half of the small wind turbine
models on the market have been tested.
The most effective approach to surmounting
these hurdles is through standardized certification with easy-to-understand labels that allow
consumers to make “apples-to-apples” comparisons. While international certification programs
are available, a more affordable and appropriate
option has been needed for the North American
small wind turbine market. The SWCC certification program was launched in 2010 to meet
As of February, SWCC had 27 additional turbine models under contract to pursue SWCC
certification, and many state and provincial
certification based on
a Wea Standard
In 2006, a group of individuals and government entities, all with an interest in developing a
North American small wind market, recognized
the need for a body that would independently
verify the performance of small wind turbines.
That group established the Small Wind Certification Committee Working Group, consisting
of more than 60 entities, including the major
small wind turbine manufacturers and representatives from a number of U.S. states and Canada,
as well as universities and key individuals. The
Interstate Renewable Energy Council facilitated
the SWCC Working Group, with funding from
several states and Canada.
In early 2008, SWCC incorporated as a nonprofit organization, elected its first board and
hired staff. Through 2009, SWCC developed the
policies and procedures that govern certification.
SWCC began accepting certification applications in February 2010.
SWCC’s mission is to develop and implement quality product certification programs for
small wind turbines, and to promote the benefits and applications of wind technologies to the
public in conjunction with other stakeholders.
The goals of SWCC’s activities include —
• Supporting the use of small wind turbines
in North America and internationally;
• Fostering the exchange and dissemination
of information concerning turbine energy and
sound-level performance; and
• Supporting and fostering appropriate government regulations and legislation related to
wind technology issues.
As an independent certification body, the
SWCC certifies that small wind turbines meet or
exceed the performance and durability requirements of the AWEA Standard 9.1-2009. This certification establishes a common North American
incentive programs for turbines included certification as part of their eligibility requirements.
larry Sherwood ( email@example.com)
is executive director of the SWCC and president of
Sherwood Associates, a renewable energy consulting
firm. He also serves as the project administrator for the
Solar America Board for Codes and Standards, editor
of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council’s (IREC’s)
Small Wind Newsletter and author of IREC’s report, “U. S.
Solar Market Trends.” Formerly, he was the executive
director of the American Solar Energy Society.
brent Summerville (brent@smallwindcertification
.org) is SWCC’s technical director, a licensed professional engineer with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from North Carolina State University and a
master’s in Appropriate Technology from Appalachian
State University (ASU). He gained experience with testing of small wind turbines while serving as the manager of the ASU Small Wind Research & Demonstration
Site on Beech Mountain.
heather rhoads-Weaver (heather@eformative
options.com) is a development, policy and market consultant specializing in forming and advancing sustainable endeavors. Her firm, eFormative Options, assists
the SWCC in communicating with and receiving input
from stakeholders, including manufacturers, installers,
incentive program managers and consumers, to highlight the performance of certified turbines.