Small-scale wind turbines help address a global need for cheap, reliable distributed energy. The market for these small (0.1 -10 kW) turbines ranges from remote off-grid locations to residential systems and grid-tied commercial applications. In recent years, the wind market has seen a rapid increase with a 28% annual growth rate and over 60 GW of installed capacity worldwide. However, small wind turbines only account for an estimated 30 MW or 0.05% of this capacity. There are several technological issues that small wind turbines face, attributing to this minute fraction of their potential installed capacity. These issues include: 1) inefficient designs compared with utility-scale counterparts, 2) consumer noise and reliability concerns, 3) non-standardized performance specifications, and 4) the lack of non-biased testing centers.
This summer, RAEL is starting a small wind test center at our new lab facility in the Richmond Field Station to address these research issues.
Each turbine tested will be evaluated based on IREC small wind performance specifications (IEC-64000) and their performance published in industry standard formatting. This evaluation will include a performance field-test, an acoustic noise field-test and a system safety and function test. In addition, for new turbine designs, our testing process will include fulfilling all requirements for addition to the Emerging Renewables Program list of small wind turbines eligible for rebates from the California Energy Commission.