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Concluding remarks and future R&D needs

Small wind turbines play an important role in off-grid projects, where in windy locations they can provide a relatively economical power supply, since alternatives such as diesel generators have high fuel costs when used for continuous power supply.  This can also be true for grid-connected installations, despite the fact that their production cost per kWh is often higher than that of large wind turbines.

Internationally accepted IEC standards (IEC61400) relevant to the small wind turbine industry already exist, but are not much used in practice.  Some effort is required to develop the existing standards for SWT, in order to increase their use.

For instance, the IEC 61400-2 standard “Design requirements for small wind turbines”, which applies to wind turbines with a rotor swept area smaller than 200 m2 and generating at a voltage below 1,000 Vac, is difficult and costly to apply to SWT.  Regarding the power performance standard IEC 61400-12, it includes directions for small turbine power performance testing for battery charging, but does not include power performance characterisation for grid-connected small wind turbines.  Finally, the intent of including noise measurements in the standard rating system is laudable; however, the test procedure outlined is imperfect.

All components of small wind turbines could be improved: blades, generators, regulation system, power converters, etc.

New designs for integration in the urban environment should be efficient and aesthetic. It goes without saying that they must be extremely quiet and robust.

The market for small wind turbines is promising.  There is an increasing number of SWT manufacturers all over the world, and even manufacturers of large wind turbines begin to assess this sector, attracted by the emerging possibilities of this new market.

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