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CERTIFICATION TESTING

As the US wind industry looks increasingly to overseas markets, there is a push for certification of US equipment. It appears the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will be ready in September to test components, noise emissions and power performance. A total of $1.9 million over three years is being spent at NREL to get full testing capability of several kinds in place. Testing is only one part of the wind turbine certification process.

Interest in certification testing of US wind equipment is increasing -- and it appears the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will be ready in September to test components, noise emissions and power performance. The government laboratory should then have the capability to move onto other areas such as loads testing, either at NREL in Colorado or at the turbine manufacturer's site, starting next year, says NREL's Hal Link.

As the US wind industry looks increasingly to overseas markets, there is a push for certification of US equipment, especially since markets such as India are moving towards requiring standards on wind imports. In February, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) board of directors unanimously supported a draft proposal to have NREL conduct testing for certification.

Those involved in standards and certification emphasised, however, that testing is only one part of the entire wind turbine certification process, which would probably not be overseen by a government agency such as NREL. Existing certification norms advised by international bodies are instead being seriously considered, says AWEA's standards chairman Tom Gray. And although NREL is looking into taking on that role, it is unlikely to do so, says the laboratory's Sue Hock.

Over a period of three years, a total of $1.9 million is being spent at NREL to get full testing capability of several kinds in place, says Link. The funding started a year and a half ago, in fiscal year 1995, and is for acquisition of test equipment, development of procedures, staff training, and starting the certification testing process, among other things.

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