CONFUSION OVER performance expectations of small wind turbines is driving a project to establish specification standards for turbine manufacturers and installers, it emerged this week.
The construction research body BRE is reviewing turbine performance information produced from manufacturers and installers with input from the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA), Micropower Council, Energy Savings Trust and the Department of Trade & Industry.
'One of the problems is that people have developed technologies in house and there's no industry standard for technical speci cation or setting out performance characteristics, ' said one industry insider.
News of the research surfaced as south London consulting engineer John Large remained locked in dispute with the suppliers of a 2.5kW turbine erected in his garden (News last week).
Large has requested detailed performance characteristics for his turbine from manufacturer Proven Energy but so far none have been supplied.
He claimed he was been forced to make do with a crude graph relating wind speed to generating output, but which fails to provide enough detail to assess his turbine's performance.
'It's like buying a car without knowing what its fuel efficiency is, ' Large said. 'These companies are flogging turbines to greenies who want to make an environmental statement but who don't have any technical understanding of what's going on.' Martin Cotterell, managing director of Sundog, the firm that supplied Large's turbine, rejected the criticism. 'The nature of the wind is that it's impossible to be accurate about output. No two sites are the same. We don't try to compare [the performance of] turbines put up in different locations.' He added that the small turbine industry was highly fractured and technically still in its infancy. This hampered attempts to standardise specifications.
A BWEA spokeswoman said that the move to establish industry standards for performance specification would be accompanied by new regulations at a later date.