Proven implications on wider small wind industry

What are the implications of Proven going into administration on the wider small wind industry?

Comments

VG Energy fix?

What's everyone think of the announcement by VG Energy for a fix?

http://www.thescottishfarmer.co.uk/renewables/2.1031/life-after-death-for-proven-s-p35-2-1.1150808

 

Proven owners website

Sorry- I forgot to add the address!!

www.wix.com/proven35/2

Proven 35-2 new website for owners

I thought it was about time an owners group/forum was set up to help organize owners of Proven's 35-2 turbines. I've set up this free web-site myself, so please be forgiving as I'm no web designer.
I thought it would be a useful place to go for owners to garner information rather than randomly searching the net. My aim is to gather as many owners contact details as I can so I can keep everyone informed about developments, etc. via regular e-mails.
Please have a look at the site and pass on contact details, stories, info. etc.

35-2

So whats happening now?

Do we just assume that VG are going to keep 35-2 turbines going and will come up with a fix?

My turbine is on brake.For cash-flow purposes,how long should I eexpect to have to wait for the fix to be made and the thing to start generating again?

Has anyone taken legal advice regarding the financial obligations of the installing company ?

Should we look at forming an OWNERS CLUB to keep informed about progress ?

owners club for 35-2

I like the idea of an owners club as it would really help to have one point of contact and one person/body disseminating information.

Fixes and Owners Clubs

At GEN we'd be very keen to help you support any kind of Owners Club if that's what people were keen to establish.

I can email VG Energy and ask them about timescales on the fix.  Will report back.

On a positive note for owners of the 3 kW and 6 kW Proven turbines, our sources suggest that Kingspan are likely to keep supporting these products over time - although I realise this is of no help or re-assurance to 35-2 owners!

John

 

Proven P35-2 Users Group

We have just formed a users' group in Northern Ireland with 8 members so far.

 

I am acting as secretary and would welcome contact from other users either individually or collectively. We would be very keen to touch base with other users with a view to a concerted approach

 

It looks like VG are out in front as far as a fix is concerned. We have a few ideas of our own but there is no point in going too far if the VG solution is imminent. Does anyone have more detail on their fix which would seem to involve a new shaft?

Proven 35-2 Owners Group

I am seeking further information on the fix from one of the technical directors at VG Energy.  Hopefully he will respond soon.

We'd be happy to provide any online support and hosting facility for your Northern Ireland group if that would be useful.  It's exactly where we'd like to see GEN going.

Further to my previous

Further to my previous comments, we have now had our turbines inspected and they both are cracked. In fact the cracks were clearly visible to the naked eye and we just needed the metallurgist to confirm what they were. For various reasons one turbine has run longer than the other and the cracks would seem to mirror that, confirming the theory that its not a question of if but simply when as a function of run-time. There is now clearly no question of operating them and in many respects we were very lucky to get them braked when we did. My expert could not be definitive but he thought that under the heavy load of a winter gale we would have seen a catastrophic failure within weeks. In any case we now have broken equipment which is insured and we are pursuing a claim. Has anyone heard anything about a fix?

35-2 cracks

Can I ask how old your turbines are, and the average wind speed? I've no easy means of inspecting mine and am assuming as they are only 4 months old they should still be damage free. They seem to be breaking after a year or so -but obviously that would depend on the wind speed, etc.

Proven 35-2 problems

Hello Duncan. Our machines were running for about 18 months and were fairly exposed. They certainly generated a lot of electricity for us. They initially had the bigger blades one of which broke off and they were replaced (as a temporary fix!!!) with the smaller blades. Talking to some of our group who have only had the smaller blades and have not experienced any cracking yet, I wonder if there is a correlation. That may be too simplistic and I'm not an engineer. I get the impression that it is only a matter of time. You might be able to run yours for a few more months without a mod but you run the risk of a catastrophic failure. I would be inclined to wait.

Best wishes

Robodoc 

35-2

Thanks for getting back to me. It's tough to weigh up whether or not to leave them running at the moment. I've been braking them during bad gales -but that isn't easy to predict.
I talked to VG a week or so ago and they seem to be getting close to being ready to start swapping out the driveshafts. I'm guessing/hoping they will make a start in January, but it could be later and may take several months to work through all the 35-2's.
What we all need is a price for the fix, start date and schedule. Mind you -I'm just glad VG are busy working on this.
Cheers,

Duncan

Shetland Wind Power collapses

The fall-out from the Proven situation rumbles on as Shetland Wind Power collapses and it bought out by VG Energy.  See the VG Press Release at http://www.greenenergynet.com/press-release/shetland-wind-power-sells-operations-vg-energy for more.

Letter from VG

We received a letter from VG this morning telling us they were assuming all turbines affected and that they were close to achieving a fix for it. Sounds similar to Duncans comments about a sleeve being fitted. Need to wait for timescales and costs to come through now, but at least a chink of light at the end of the tunnel.

Proven P35-2

Very interested to read Duncan's comments re VG. Have heard conflicting reports to the effect that installers as a group are meeting with Kingspan to agree a way forward but now it would seem that VG are going it alone. As has been the case throughout, a simple clarifying statement from Kingspan/installers group/HSE/VG or anybody else who actually knows what is going on would be greatly appreciated.

In the meantime I have a consulting metallurgist standing by and would very much appreciate details of Duncan's engineer and/or his test procedure. 

In many respects it would actually be better if our machines were broken - at least we would know. As it is they stand idle and may actually remain perfectly serviceable.

Incidently we were really pleased with our first year's performance which we reckon was worth about £15k in total.

Further to my earlier post,

Further to my earlier post, the website of the company in Cornwall doing the testing is www.BrennanNDT.co.uk

P35-2 Testing

Thank you Duncan, thats valuable information.

It  might be more beneficial if the sellers of the turbine took more time to consider servicing and repairing those that they have already sold rather than trying to sell another turbine.

PROVEN 35-2

VG have done a deal with Xzeres, which makes sense as they need to keep selling a turbine of that kind of size. Xzeres and VG have also come up with a bracket/adapter so 35-2 towers can be fitted with a xzeres turbine head. The drawback is that it will cost about £30k to do that. I've realised that about two thirds of the total cost of my installation was the founds, towers, inverters, supply, etc. and about one third was the turbine heads. So in my worst case scenario, if I could finance it I could replace the turbine heads. But at £30k a pop I think it's beyond me.
I'm please that VG are working on the 35-2 fix -as that is by far the best option.

The Energy Consultant I talked to is called Bill Andrews from Cornwall. He works for himself as an Energy Consultant and has been involved with the purchase of a 35-2 for a community energy project for a village called South Wheatley. I talked to him for quite some time. He is a mechanical engineer with a former career in the aerospace industry and offshore oil industry. He is very intelligent, and has used his knowledge and experience to come up with a relatively simple way of testing the 35-2 turbine drive shafts in-situ via a cherry picker. By comparing an un-used 35-2 with one in the field he can compare test results to prove one way or the other whether there are internal stress cracks/defects within the drive shaft. He's tested his own community turbine, which has been operational for about 18 months with a 5,5m/s wind speed and found identical results to a new turbine -so therefore no problems so far. He has used that data to convince HSE locally and his insurance company to allow him to switch the turbine back on, with the proviso that he will need to make follow up checks at regular intervals. He views the testing as a short term solution to get the turbine back on, and is now working up a design for a permanent repair for the turbine.
There is another guy that actually does the testing that charges £45 per hour. For me - as I'm in the Hebrides and he is in Cornwall-getting the test done is not really a viable option. I'd need somebody more local to me. I hope he won't mind that I've published his contact details below. My view is that the more we all know the better.
Contact: Mr William (Bill) Andrews Phone Number.: 01566 781332
ANDREWSWbaent [at] aol [dot] com.

Proven 35-2 update

VG Energy have now had a meeting with Kingspan regarding a fix for the 35-2 turbines. Kingspan seem to be okay about letting VG Energy work on a solution -which is great. VG have to work on getting a design proposal for the repairs approved by the various regulatory bodies, then if that all goes smoothly they have to plan how to schedule and implement the alterations to a lot of 35-2's. The approval process is likely to take a few more weeks as far as I can gather, and the repair process probably several months given the number of turbines to repair.
I've also talked to an Engineer/Energy Consultant who has a method of testing turbines in-situ to prove one way or the other if they actually have a defect within the drive shaft (which may well not be visible externally). He is using this method to prove to insurance companies and HSE that a particular turbine is not damaged and can therefore be operational. This is only really a short term solution as regular re-inspections are required in order to maintain evidence of integrity. But it works.

Proven P35-2 update

Glad to see VG have been communicating better with you than they have with me. So far they have refused to service my turbine which is due now.

Would you be able to share the name of the engineer who can test the turbines in situ to see if they are faulty?

Thanks

VG Energy and turbine manufacturers

For the record, when I talked to VG Energy at a conference the other day, they have undertaken what they described as a 'thorough evluation' of the market and have formed a significant strategic relationship with Xzeres, a US small turbine manufacturer, who produce an MCS certified 12 kW turbine.  This is effectively going to be their replacement product for the Proven 35-2.

For those with 35-2 turbines doing nothing, what are your legal advisors telling you about the terms of your contract and warranty?  What are the obligations on your installer?

It sounds a bit like VG Energy may have some form of obligation to their customers and that may explain why they are looking at potential fixes.  But, strategically as a company, they seem to have made the move to shift their turbine supplier.

VG & Turbines

John - the legal difficulty starts when you don't actually know whether or not you have a 'faulty' turbine. No point charging down the legal route if the turbine is ok at the moment. That is the big issue I have at the current time as no-one can tell me when they will be able to check it to let me know.

The parts issue is just viewed as a business risk, the bigger matter is whether you were sold a product that was not fit for sale I suppose.

I don't want to say anymore about VG than I already have, but they are not doing themselves any favours with me at the moment and I have not been afraid to let them, or others know that.

This issue of whether or not

This issue of whether or not the turbines are faulty or not is confusing.
Personally, I'm assuming that all the operated turbines are damaged to some extent. As this issue is a gradual problem of metal fatigue (because of bad design) resulting in eventual failure -once the turbines are operated they will be degrading slowly towards the point of failure.
It is possible to test turbines (ultra-sonic testing) in-situ as I noted previously, but this will only show that at the time of the test the turbines are substantially damaged or not. As soon as they are operational after the test they could become damaged, so regular testing would be required to check their status.
If you want them checked you're best to organise it yourself via a local consultant similar to the one I mentioned before.
The product (turbine) was not fit for purpose as it has an obvious generic design flaw. It's not the case that some turbines have the problem and some don't -the problem will develop in all the machines - and only the timescale to the point of failure will vary depending on average wind speed, siting, etc. : 7 months in Scotland and 18 months or so in Malta apparently.

testing

Have to agree with Duncan. All the advice I am getting from his expert (many thanks for the contact Duncan) in metal fabrication/welding and my own metallurgist would suggest a very basic design fault.They have been comparing notes and agree that it's not a question of if but simply when. Visual inspection will probably show if there is a crack but it may need a slightly more sophistocated dye test, the critical thing is that it be carried out by a suitably qualified expert. Ultrasound could allow testing in situ. However I'm told the cracking process is relatively slow. My man commented that there are lots of planes flying with cracks but they know how long before it gets critical!

Couple of scenarios

1. crack is obvious - do not use until repair effected

2 no crack - can be used with caution (ie brake on receipt of gale warnings) and with regular checking, frequency dependant on typical wind speeds, hours in use etc but will have to convince local authorities and insurer

 

Bottom line repair/modification will have to effected as soon as practicable but we may be able to get back in operation in the interim. As I reported previously our two machines were worth about £15k to us in the last year. They have been down now for over a month so that's already a loss of over £1k.

I'm told a relatively straightforward job to fit a collar to spread the stress load but design and fabrication will be the issue, got to get someone who knows what they are doing.

 

Our installer has assured us that their grouping are actively pursuing a solution but form other comments some at least seem more interested in finding an alternative model to promote

I intend to organise an inspection by our consultant metallurgist asap and then we will know where we stand. Will post developments.

Testing etc

Thanks both. Now that is interesting, as VG have told me that not all turbines are affected. They told me the fault is on some turbines due to the temperature of the weld being incorrect. Can I ask how you/your advisors know that all of the turbines are affected?

 

35-2 defect

I'm not sure if anyone can be 100% certain of anything at the moment.
As far as I know - from Bill Andrews - the design of the turbine head and location of welds has resulted in a concentration of forces which will cause eventual fatigue in one specific area. He thinks that this can be negated with the addition of some type of collar to spread the load, although replacing the driveshaft with a larger/stronger one is also an option. The smaller turbines are of identical design except scaled down -and seem to work without breaking. So the 35-2 must have been upscaled incorrectly -again a design flaw.
The welds must vary slightly from one turbine to another, otherwise they would all have failed pretty much around the same time. I've not heard about differing weld temperatures until now -so that might be a factor. VG are in a good position to know I suppose.

In any case I think we should asume that all turbines are affected and will need a fix.

P35 -2


Like a lot of others we find ourselves with two machines lying idle and no indication as to how to proceed.

Am I right in asuming that someone in Proven/Kingspan knows where the problem lies and perhaps even how to address it. At the moment there seem to be several different explanations circulating from complete design fault scrap the lot to minor mechanical issue which can be easily addressed and everything in between.

 

I accept that Kingspan have no liability in law and clearly want little to do with the P35-2 but would it not be a good move on their part to very quickly publish unambiguously what is known about the problem within Proven?  I guess it will come down to others to fix these machines. However if they could at least issue a definitive statement telling us what the problem is, then we can perhaps employ an independent expert to determine whether our machines are safe to run or what steps we should take to make them safe.

P35-2

I'm in the same position as you -except with three turbines!
I talked to Kingspan this week - who told me the following:
Proven as a company no longer exist and their product development staff have all been made redundant. The remaining staff are there to make the two smaller turbines and have no knowledge of the issues with the 35-2. Kingspan seem to have no intention of searching through old Proven files or doing anything else to try to find out what all the issues were with the 35-2, let alone work on a solution. I, like you, wanted them to publish everything that is known about the defect. They are really not interested. They are focussing on selling the two smaller turbines.

I've also talked to VG Energy, who are trying to work towards a fix for the 35-2. It was one of their turbines that failed most recently -prompting the Proven collapse, so they are aware of all the technical issues as a result. They seem to have various technical proposals that they think will repair the existing turbines and have had discussions with various other parties regarding certification, etc. They are meeting with people from Kingspan this week to discuss things. I suggested to Kingspan that although Kingspan themselves are not really interested in helping 35-2 customers, they should at least encourage VG Energy in their pursuit of a solution.
I'll wait until the end of the week to find out how that meeting went. At the moment VG Energy is my only hope of getting the turbines running again.

P35-2 - no joy for now

robodoc43 - I feel your pain.

I called VG Energy (our installer) last Thursday to ask if they could come out and check our turbine as it is due a service in the next few weeks anyway. I just wanted to know whether it was a faulty one or not and they say they can tell from some stamp or other on the turbine.

Unfortunately I was refused as VG appear to have 'downed tools' on servicing and maintenance of the P35-2 until 'we see what Kingspan do'. I was told it was all about the lack of available parts. 'Whats the point in us servicing a turbine if we couldnt't get any repalcement parts if required?' was the question I was asked. Well, a big point I thought! Like being able to tell me whether it was a faulty one or not for a start.

Not the customer service I was looking for from a company who said customer care was at the top of their list and that they have an 'important aftersles service'.

Very disappointing. 

In response to the Gaia Wind article

Whilst it is good for the industry that Gaia are being as open as this, I think you could quite easily repace the name 'Gaia' with the name 'Proven' if you were writing that article, say, 2 months ago.

The comments about MCS Certificiation are also a bit hollow sounding given what has gone in the last few weeks.

I do think Gaia has a good reputation, and when I was considering what turbine to go for, Gaia only narrowly lost out to Proven (unfortunately with hindsight) on number of units 'in the ground' and the requirement for a 3 phase connection. I wish them all the best for the future, and my comment is by no means a negative toward Gaia, more a general observation.

Response from Gaia Wind

The following is a response to this discussion from Gaia Wind, one of the market leading manufacturers of small wind turbines...

Regarding the points raised as things customers should “check before you buy” here are our comments:

GEN>> Detailed product spec information including MCS test results (manufacturer) - also information on their anticipated future product release cycle, current R&D efforts etc.

Gaia>> A well run manufacturer should certainly be as open as possible although this may not be practical in terms of going into detail regarding commercially sensitive R&D efforts for example.

GEN>> Customer support resources from manufacturer eg. online discussion forums etc. so you can talk to other owners - most don't have these (hence why we think GreenEnergyNet.com is important!  

Gaia >> We think so too. You do a great job although we also have a lot of “owner traffic and information sharing” through our online channels.

GEN>> Product servicing and warranty terms - what happens if...

Gaia >> This must be clear and face to face or online information should be available.

GEN>> Number of live sites operating the product of interest.

Gaia >> Certainly getting figures on number of operational projects gives some comfort on the issue of 'reliability'. Reliability covers many aspects of a turbines operation: maintenance, parts, lifespan, and unbiased information on performance and ROI to name just a few! I think one of the first things to note is that more than 350 Gaia-Wind turbines have been “in the ground” for a combined operational time of more than 13 million hours. That’s over 1,255 years! In Denmark, for example 77 of our Gaia-Wind turbines have been running for more than 10 years.

We also offer a “Turbines near me” section on our website allowing prospective customers to find sites near them.

GEN>> Availability and location of spare parts 

Gaia >> Our Parts are basically “off the shelf” so can be readily sourced.

To be clear on the current state of Gaia Wind as a company in October 2011:

  • From a starting point of around four small wind turbines per month: well on target to producing more than 250 turbines in our first year here at Port Dundas
  • Employee numbers have almost doubled from 17 to 32 in the past year
  • Currently have around 100 Gaia-Wind 133 11kW turbines “In the ground” in Scotland
  • A similar number are in planning
  • More than 350  turbines installed worldwide with a combined operational time of some 13 million hours
  • Around 80 per cent of sales are in the UK with interest from Europe and the United States growing steadily
  • In June the Gaia-Wind 133-11kW was given the best rating of the top 24 turbines available in the US - see press release.
  • Our state of the art Hub in Glasgow is laid out to cope with making 1,000 turbines a year in a single shift pattern.
  • We expect to be at full capacity within the next five years.

Regarding some of the significant issues around sales techniques, we have seen some criticism of tactics in the renewables field. So we agree with the MCS Steering Group which acknowledges that in the case of small wind turbines in particular, the over-riding concern is for quality and consumer protection.

Companies like Gaia-Wind have invested very substantial sums in R&D of our small wind turbine, and in particular in the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).

A crucial by-product of MCS is that products have to be independently tested. For the first time potential investors in small scale renewables can compare vital like-for-like characteristics that have been independently measured and published as part of the MCS process.  Over-enthusiastic or inflated claims about for example, small wind turbines’ noise levels, production capability and therefore potential financial returns can be squashed just by comparing the MCS figures to the claims.

It has become common for example for wind turbines to be compared by looking at their maximum power output or ‘rated power’ in kilowatts (kW). The problem with this is that many manufacturers rate their products at very high wind speeds (usually 12m/s or more). This means that the turbine will only produce its rated power when the wind is blowing very hard – which is not that often.  It makes a lot more sense to see how much power a turbine will generate in the kind of wind speeds that are frequent in most parts of the UK – in the range of 4 – 9m/s.  These lower speeds are much more common so a turbine that performs well in them will generate much more energy over the course of a year than one that performs best in the 10 – 15m/s range.  MCS provides Annual Energy Production (AEP) and sound figures for certified turbines which are of course independently tested.

“Manufacturers’ presentation of their power curves and ratings of turbines have been calculated using different methods. Additionally, a number of manufacturers’ power  curves were deemed inaccurate or incorrect. As such, it is difficult for potential customers to compare the performance  of different products. Potential customers should treat published power curves with caution until such time that  products receive MCS accreditation.

“The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) has developed standards that require manufacturers to publish an accredited power curve. ......Such standards will allow customers to more easily compare predicted performance amongst different products.”

Source: Energy Saving Trust publication: http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Publications2/Housing-professionals/Microgeneration-Renewables/Location-Location-Location-domestic-small-scale-wind-field-trial-report

What should I ask my prospective turbine supplier?

Along with the items listed in the original post I would like to add our comments as a manufacturer of 50 kW turbines that are selling and performing very well in the UK market.

Many end customers will never deal with the manufacturer directly, they will deal through an authorized distributor or dealer of that manufacturer. As a result, choosing a reputable and professional dealer is just as important as choosing the turbine you wish to purchase. In choosing the person you are going to buy the turbine from you are placing a lot of trust in the fact that they have themselves done appropriate due diligence on the manufacturer.

At Endurance, we actively participate in initializing and participating in that due diligence. We encourage our dealers to travel to Canada to see our manufacturing facility and to the US to see our test facility. In doing their diligence we ask them to arrive at 3 conclusions:

1) Is it a good turbine
2) Do we stand behind it
3) Are we financially sound to stay in business to stand behind it

In all cases the questions have bee answered positively. We also ask the dealers to do something that expresses their confidence in Endurance. We ask them to pay a substantial 6 figure dollar amount to become authorized to sell our turbines. We are asking them to take the same risk any customer would take. More importantly, they would not be asking any customer to take a risk they were not prepared to take themselves.

Two final points. No one should listen to anything any manufacturer or dealer claims, including what I am saying here. The best protection anyone can have is to ask existing customers if they are satisfied with the turbine, the dealer who sold and service it and the support from the manufacturer. And not a select one or two friendly customers provided by the manufacturer. You should be able to go to any customer, anywhere in the world and get a reference.

The last point is one that also deals with expecting customers to take risks that you wouldn't take yourself. Endurance will either sell the turbine to a customer directly on a full retail basis, or, in the right site conditions, pay the customer a land lease and take all the risk and install the unit themselves at no cost to the land owner. As a manufacturer we are very confident in our product and will take all the risk ourselves if the customer is not able or willing to accept the risk. We believe that is a very powerful message about our belief and confidence in the robustness of our turbine and the longevity of the market.

What should I ask my prospective turbine supplier?

Someone emailed me today to ask "How can you check whether something similar won't happen to another turbine manufacturer?  What should I be asking them?".  The Proven situation certainly puts the spotlight on asking the right questions.

Obviously the last thing we want to do is lower confidence in the small wind sector.  Unlike the medium wind sector, this is one that the "we do" in the UK and have a significant number of manufacturers.  With the number of objections to larger scale onshore wind rising, it is the smaler scale products that could offer a wealth of opportunity.  But you have to balance this with the need for potential customers to have access to an honest assessment of the risks.

We have asked one of our Supporters, an accountancy firm, to look at the relative financial health of 4 other key manufacturers in this market based on their latest company accounts.  So hopefully we can pass this on in the next few days.  As always with all company accounts (1) they are usually fairly out-of-date so reflect an inccurate position especially for companies in a rapidly growing market and (2) it may not be easy to understand the financial soundness of the company from these accounts.

The best idea, as with any kind of major purchase, is to do your own homework before you commit to anything and ask awkward questions - in effect do your own due diligence tests.  Of course many (but not all) turbines are sold and implemented through a reseller so you may well not have a direct communication channel to the manufacturer.  And, as has been clearly shown with Proven, it is the manufacturer and their warranty that is critical.  Once implemented it's unlikely to be a major problem to change your reseller to get support from someone different.  

Here's a potential checklist - I'm sure others can improve this list:

  1. Company background / staff / location / shareholders / length of time in business - for reseller & manufacturer
  2. Up-to-date company financial information including solvency ratio - for reseller & manufacturer
  3. A full understanding of the business model for sales and on-going support by the manufacturer - direct, network of resellers, degree of exclusivity, length of time they've been a reseller
  4. Detailed product spec information including MCS test results (manufacturer) - also information on their anticipated future product release cycle, current R&D efforts etc.
  5. Customer support resources from manufacturer eg. online discussion forums etc. so you can talk to other owners - most don't have these (hence why we think GreenEnergyNet.com is important!)
  6. Product servicing and warranty terms - what happens if...?
  7. Number of live, fully functioning sites in UK and abroad
  8. Number of live sites operating the product of interest
  9. Length of time product has been available
  10. Availability and location of spare parts
  11. Contacts for other customers with operational systems based on product of interest

You should insist on getting access to information supplied directly from the manfacturer.

A few of these questions do appear in the article "The Top 10 questions you should ask your turbine manfacturer"...written by Proven Energy.

What to ask your turbine supplier

As we have seen, the financial position of the main players in the small wind turbine market are all pretty much the same and whilst a laudable exercise hasn't really got us very far. If it can happen to Proven it seems likely that administration or something similar could happen to any other small wind turbine manufacturer.

It's my opinion that the best guarantee any prospective small wind turbine customer has would result only if he/she purchased a turbine that has been around for a minimum of five years - maybe even longer. Let me explain . . .

It's a heck of an engineering feat to build a small wind turbine that will last 20 years without any initial major issues. The wind at these relatively low heights will be affected by the type of terrain, there will be cross winds, gusts, turbulence, constant varying wind speeds and changes of wind directions. Not exactly the nice laminar flows that bigger wind turbines enjoy!

Whether because of the above or for some other reason, history shows that it has not been possible to develop and launch a small wind turbine without there being at least one major issue in its formative years. Even Proven's P35-2 had, it is alleged, four or five major issues before the one that finally caused the demise of the company.

My advice would be to forget the new entrants to the market. Their turbines don't have enough run time and a major issue is almost certainly around the corner. Stick with something that's gone through that mill where the supplier has met and professionally corrected those issues. Proven's smaller turbines (2.5kW and 6kW) have been around much longer than five years thus it's no wonder that Kingspan picked up only those models and not the P35-2!

I welcome your comments.

Accreditation or certification

Please note that manufactures' product receives MCS 'certification' not 'accreditation'. It's the testing bodies like TUV-NEL who have been awarded the accreditation to test small wind turbines. Sorry but it upsets me when I see this word used incorrectly, same as when someone clearly doesn't know the difference between kW and kWh!

Wider implications

There could be some major implications to the wider small wind industry in areas of:

  • Customer confidence in both companies in terms of their long-term viability
  • Customer confidence in specific products and their ability to do what the sales material claims
  • Confidence in the MCS accreditation process
  • Contractual terms and liabilities
  • Warranty terms
  • Insurance cover terms

 

 

Public image of MCS

I think as long as the MCS serves the industry rather than the public this situation could easily reoccur. Small wind is still really only a cottage industry.

Why is MCS for the benefit of the industry? Well, why all the extensions to the certification deadline? Why did established makers not (and often still haven't) obtain MCS for their products far earlier? Proven and Eoltec come straight to mind. Why are the certification figures not published on the MCS website? I have raised this directly and, as a mere member of the public, never had a reply.

Why no action taken against makers who have, for years often, published sales material with overstated output figures? If these firms understand their products then surely they must have known their sales pitch was based on lies. Or maybe that's the rub. How many makers really know their products even when they are happy to take thousands of pounds of off retail customers. It would seem that Proven still don't have a clue how to scale up the design of the P11 to a larger machine. Possibly it simply can't be done but it might have been more professional of them to have completed the testing phase on their on time rather than that of hundreds of customers.

One of your other threads concerns the reputation of Proven. I could give you a long list of why they were never on my own shortlist if anyone's interested.

Reputation of Proven

Yes, I would like to hear your expert list.

Proven and MCS

The P35 and P35-2 are both off the MCS list.

Proven and MCS

There is a serious question in relation to the MCS certification of Proven wind turbines and indeed other models as well:
Why when customers after spending huge amounts of money on a turbine which is MCS certified can the certificate be withdrawn, after all, these customers did buy an MCS approved machine in order to qualify for FIT. Now because the MCS certification has been withdrawn these same customers will lose the financial benefits which they were contracted to recieve on the basis of this certification.

Surely this completely undermines the whole concept of investing such large amounts of money on over priced products based purely on MCS approval, this surely implies that any MCS approved product could be removed from the list and these same customers will lose the revenue stream which are necessary to justify the investment in the first instance.

It also raises fundemental questions as to why wind technology is so expensive, for instance; there's far greater technolgy involved in manufacturing a motor car than there is in a sub 20 kw wind turbine but will more than likely sell much cheaper than a wind turbine, if there is a manufacturing fault in a model of car you dont see that model being delisted by safety authorities and customers being advised to park them.

So the real question is what does MCS approval infer to purchasers of such equipment;
does it mean that the turbine is certified to meet its stated output in kw @ a given wind speed?
or does it also infer a statement as to the safety of the equipment??
or indeed, does it certify the overall design of the wind turbine ??????????????

Windtide.ie invested a considerable amount of money in developing a safe, robust and modular wind turbine, and the reason we invested in developing safe and modular technology was because personal experience led to the realisation that any products we had previous exposure to were over priced and under engineered. lessons learned we decided to develop technology which was safe and could be sold much cheaper than our compettitors. Hence the introduction of MCS and the deferral of production plans because we could not afford the 200k plus to certify; which in effect has now locked smaller more engineer driven companies like ours out of the market; unless of course we sell our souls to the corporate driven investors whose only interest is profits with no understanding of the products or the manufacturing process. good product development is a learning curve which can only be successfully built on through the freedom to allow products to evolve over time.

To us, does MCS certification safeguard the customer; obviously NOT and NEVER WILL.
It does however safeguard the existing large players in the market who have the financial resources to market thier overpriced products aggressively.
In the case of Proven, basic engineering would have dictated that all mechanical products are prone to failure, its how you design for the failure which is important; They did not design for that faillure, end result customer still GOT SCREWED ---- MCS or no MCS.