The U.S. Department of Energy is expecting to hit 20% wind energy or 300 GW of generating capacity by 2030. Unlike traditional energy sources, the challenge of achieving this goal is not related to availability of raw materials, but rather increasing the manufacturing capacity of wind-energy generation equipment. One government study says achieving 20% wind energy will require the number of turbine installations to increase to almost 7,000 per year by 2017.
The rapid increase in the annual number of wind turbine installations will draw more manufacturers of turbines generators and components into the U.S. and Canadian markets. However, before a manufacturer can take advantage of this growing opportunity it must be familiar with the regulatory requirements pertaining to these markets.
As background, before a wind turbine can begin operating it must comply with national, state, or province and local electrical codes. Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ), is responsible for making this determination. In the case of wind turbines, the authority is an electrical inspector.
Here’s the problem, says a white paper issued by equipment-certification firm Intertek: An authority or inspector can call upon national or local codes or standards as they relate to the wind turbine as the basis for denying approval to begin operating the unit. If an inspector challenges a wind turbine’s compliance to code, the manufacturer is required to make the necessary equipment or installation corrections to satisfy the local code requirements. This must be satisfied before the turbine can begin operating.
These corrections often require extensive equipment modifications, which can result in costly delays. Understanding the regulatory issues related to wind turbines will let manufacturers avoid many potential inspector objections and costly delays.
Intertek says it knows how to avoid time consuming and costly pitfalls, and improve the overall turbine product-safety-certification process, so that the information should be most useful to manufacturers of wind turbines and their components, and turbine customers and investors. This paper also discusses regulatory issues related to wind turbines and provides advance planning tactics to reduce the likelihood of an inspector’s objection. What’s more, the paper includes best practices to receive inspector approval in the event of a challenge. These methods are based on Intertek’s broad experience with power-generation equipment and evaluation of over 1,000 wind turbines in North America alone.
The 7-page paper (Wind turbine generators electrical safety compliance in the U.S. and Canada) is available from Intertek at www.intertek.com.