Supplier FAQ

What permissions do I need before erecting or connecting a microgenerator?

Planning permission is required if the characteristics of the system to be installed are outside those described in Statutory Instrument No. 83 of 2007 or Statutory Instrument No. 235 of 2008. You should contact your local authority to ensure that the exemptions apply at the location and you are not subject to the restrictions on exemptions as outlined in SI No. 600 of 2001. The local authority will issue a written declaration that your project is exempt from planning requirements and you should not proceed without this document. (Refer also to the FAQ covering planning requirements).

ESB Networks operate an ‘inform and consent’ system of registering a grid connected system. The interface with the grid must be of a type compliant with EN 50438. ESB Networks maintains a list of ‘type tests’ for grid interfaces or inverters which comply with European standard EN50438.

The conditions governing the connection of a microgenerator, including the important points of EN 50438, can be viewed on the ESB Networks website.

The standard ensures quality of output if exporting or connected to the grid. The generator must stop producing in times of grid outage. While it would be useful to have your own source of power during a network outage the automatic shutdown of a grid connected turbine or PV panel is necessary to minimise the risk of injury to line technicians repairing or working on a line.

The Commission for Energy Regulation directed that individuals planning installations below 1 MW in capacity (includes all microgenerators) will no longer be required to apply for an Authorisation to Construct or a Licence to Generate. Each installation will stand duly authorised by order. All generators must comply with the requirements of the orders so it is each generator’s interest to review the conditions of the authorisation and license. Suppliers should inform their customers of these requirements as the operator of a generator may not know they are operating under licence.

Back to top

What are the planning requirements for a micro-scale wind installation?

Subject to certain conditions domestic wind turbines may be exempt from planning requirements up to a maximum hub height of 10m and total (tip) height of 13m. For commercial installations and the agricultural sector 2008 saw an increase in the exemption up to the maximum (blade tip) height of 20m. You should however consult with your local planners who can inform you if there are location specific conditions applicable to installations in your area which may mean the exemptions do not apply (see extract of SI No. 600 of 2001 below).

Your prospective turbine supplier should be able to provide you with the specifications of the turbine and the tower you are considering; In particular the height of the mast, the diameter of the blades and the sound emissions at different distances from the installation are important for planning purposes. The level of noise at your premises or the nearest neighbour’s premises (whichever is closer) should not be above 43dB(A) (or 5dB(A) above the background noise). The European Standard in relation to noise testing for wind turbines is EN 61400-11:2003.

40dB(A) is comparable to the noise levels in a quiet rural area, quiet library or ¼ as loud as ordinary conversation. 50dB(A) can be approximated as equivalent to the noise levels in a quite suburban area, in an average home or with a dishwasher running in the next room. 50dB(A) is roughly ½ as loud as normal conversation. Conversational speech at 1m distance equates to noise levels of 60dB(A).

It is also a good idea to consult with your neighbours at an early stage to inform them of your plans.

Roof mounted or building mounted turbines are not exempt from planning requirements and planning must be applied for through the normal channels on a case by case basis. Roof and building mounted turbines are discussed in the microgeneration FAQs.

Please note:

Restrictions on planning exemptions

Statutory Instrument No. 600 of 2001 (extract below) outlines conditions and situations where the exemptions for wind turbines and solar PV do not apply. Microgenerators should contact their local authorities to receive guidance on their own site as they may not be fully aware of the classification of their locality. Each local authority has drawn up development plans which designate areas, for example, as areas of special conservation, natural amenity or development potential. Should you go ahead with an installation and adhere only to the exemptions as per SI No. 83 of 2007 and SI No. 235 of 2008 you may still be in contravention of planning laws as outlined in SI No. 600 of 2001.

Individuals can apply to their local authority to get a formal declaration on whether their planned installation is covered by the exemptions and not subject to the restrictions outlined in SI 600 of 2001. There is a small fee charged by the local authority (approx. €80) for this facility but the local authority must reply within 4 weeks. If the local authority requires further information from the individual they may then avail of further 3 week period from receipt of the complete information required before issuing their declaration on the planned works. Details of this statutory process are contained in Planning and Development Act of 2000.

The following two Statutory Instruments (SI) describe situations where planning permission may not be required. SI No. 83 of 2007 refers to domestic settings while SI No. 235 of 2008 deals with commercial and agricultural installations. If the planned installation does not satisfy the appropriate conditions or is subject to the exemptions restrictions the planning process must be adhered to and permission sought. If the planned installation does not satisfy the pertinent conditions below, particularly with regard to height, it does not mean that the granting of planning permission through the normal planning process is not possible.

Paragraph (b) of SI 83 of 2007: the construction, erection or placing within the curtilage of a house of a wind turbine.

  1. The turbine shall not be erected on or attached to the house or any building or other structure within its curtilage.
  2. The total height of the turbine shall not exceed 13 metres.
  3. The rotor diameter shall not exceed 6 metres.
  4. The minimum clearance between the lower tip of the rotor and ground level shall not be less than 3 metres.
  5. The supporting tower shall be a distance of not less than the total structure height (including the blade of the turbine at the highest point of its arc) plus one metre from any party boundary.
  6. Noise levels must not exceed 43db(A) during normal operation, or in excess of 5db(A) above the background noise, whichever is greater, as measured from the nearest neighbouring inhabited dwelling.
  7. No more than one turbine shall be erected within the curtilage of a house.
  8. No such structure shall be constructed, erected or placed forward of the front wall of a house.
  9. All turbine components shall have a matt, non-reflective finish and the blade shall be made of material that does not deflect telecommunication signals.
  10. No sign, advertisement or object, not required for the functioning or safety of the turbine shall be attached to or exhibited on the wind turbine.

The full text can be viewed on the Department of Environment website or via this link: SI No. 83 of 2007

SI 235 of 2008: the construction, erection or placing within the curtilage of an industrial building or light industrial building, or business premises of a wind turbine:

  1. The turbine shall not be erected on or attached to the premises or building or any other structure within the curtilage of the building or premises.
  2. The total height of the turbine shall not exceed 20 metres.
  3. The rotor diameter shall not exceed 8 metres.
  4. The minimum clearance between the lower tip of the rotor and ground level shall not be less than 3 metres.
  5. The supporting tower shall be a distance of not less than the total structure height (including the blade of the turbine at the highest point of its arc) plus:
    (a) 5 metres from any party boundary,
    (b) 5 metres from any non-electrical overhead cables,
    (c) 20 metres from any 38kV electricity distribution line,
    (d) 30 metres from the centreline of any electricity transmission line of 110kV or more.
  6. The turbine shall not be located within 5 kilometres of the nearest airport or aerodrome, or any communication, navigation and surveillance facilities designated by the Irish Aviation Authority, save with the consent in writing of the Authority and compliance with any condition relating to the provision of aviation obstacle warning lighting.
  7. Noise levels must not exceed 43db(A) during normal operation, as measured from the nearest party boundary.
  8. Not more than one turbine shall be erected within the curtilage of the premises or building.
  9. All turbine components shall have a matt, non-reflective finish and the blade shall be made of material that does not deflect telecommunication signals.
  10. No sign, advertisement or object, not required for the functioning or safety of the turbine shall be attached to or exhibited on the wind turbine.
  11. The turbine shall not be located within an Architectural Conservation Area.

The full text can be viewed on the Department of Environment website or via this link: SI No. 235 of 2008

SI 235 of 2008: the construction, erection or placing within an agricultural holding of a wind turbine:

  1. The turbine shall not be erected on or attached to a building or other structure.
  2. The total height of the turbine shall not exceed 20 metres.
  3. The rotor diameter shall not exceed 8 metres.
  4. The minimum clearance between the lower tip of the rotor and ground level shall not be less than 3 metres.
  5. The supporting tower shall be a distance of not less than:
    (a) One and a half times the total structure height (including the blade of the turbine at the highest point of its arc) plus 1 metre from any party boundary.
    (b) The total structure height (including the blade of the turbine at the highest point of its arc) plus:
    (i) 5 metres from any non-electrical overhead cables, (ii) 20 metres from any 38kV electricity distribution line, (iii) 30 metres from the centreline of any electricity transmission line of 110kV or more.
  6. The turbine shall not be located within:
    (a) 100 metres of an existing wind turbine.
    (b) 5 kilometres of the nearest airport or aerodrome, or any communication, navigation and surveillance facilities designated by the Irish Aviation Authority, save with the consent in writing of the Authority and compliance with any condition relating to the provision of aviation obstacle warning lighting.
  7. Noise levels must not exceed 43db(A) during normal operation, as measured from the nearest habitable house.
  8. Not more than one turbine shall be erected within the agricultural holding.
  9. All turbine components shall have a matt, non-reflective finish and the blade shall be made of material that does not deflect telecommunication signals.
  10. No sign, advertisement or object, not required for the functioning or safety of the turbine shall be attached to or exhibited on the wind turbine.

The full text can be viewed on the Department of Environment website or via this link: SI No. 235 of 2008

Extract from SI  600 of 2001: Restrictions on exemptions

Article 9(1) Development to which article 6 relates shall not be exempted development for the purposes of the Act—

(a)   if the carrying out of such development would—

(vi) interfere with the character of a landscape, or a view or prospect of special amenity value or special interest, the preservation of which is an objective of a development plan for the area in which the development is proposed or, pending the variation of a development plan or the making of a new development plan, in the draft variation of the development plan or the draft development plan,

(vii) consist of or comprise the excavation, alteration or demolition (other than peat extraction) of places, caves, sites, features or other objects of archaeological, geological, historical, scientific or ecological interest, the preservation of which is an objective of a development plan for the area in which the development is proposed or, pending the variation of a development plan or the making of a new development plan, in the draft variation of the development plan or the draft development plan, save any excavation, pursuant to and in accordance with a licence granted under section 26 of the National Monuments Act, 1930 ( No. 2 of 1930 ),

(b)   in an area to which a special amenity area order relates,

The full text can be viewed on the Department of Environment website or via this link: SI No. 600 of 2001

Back to top

Is there a grant available for microgeneration?

At present there is no national grant or incentivised programme available alleviating the cost of installing a domestic or small business scale wind turbine, PV array, micro-hydro or micro-CHP unit. There was financial assistance available to a small number of sites which are being monitored in field trials during 2010/11. The Minister with responsibility for energy launched field trials in February 2009. The aim of the trial is to, among other things, collect data on the performance and effectiveness of microgeneration in an Irish setting.

Details of the field trials, the criteria for applications, the involvement of the different technologies and customer groups and the exact level of support can be reviewed in the grants section of the SEAI website.

Please note that this is a pilot study and as such the numbers involved were limited (approximately 50 installations including approximately 25 wind turbines, 20 PV arrays and 5 hydro schemes). SEAI is also engaged in a number of desk-top studies on the potential market and the potential commercial arrangements for microgeneration.


Back to top

Is it expensive to get grid connected?

Apart from the cost of employing a RECI/ECSSA certified electrician to connect the system to the grid (which will be included in the price of the system) there will typically be no additional charge from ESB Networks. However in some instances, there may be additional physical works required, and such works would be chargeable.

An import/export meter (interval meter) is required to avail of payment for export. ESB Networks is providing the first 4,000 microgenerators with free interval meters.

Refer to the SEAI guide to connecting a microgeneration for further information.


Back to top

How do I go about organising a connection to the grid?

A microgenerator supplier should take care of the documentation necessary. It is a quick form so should be done at no extra cost to the customer. The supplier should also take care of the hiring of a RECI or ECSSA certified electrician to carry out the connection to ETCI standards as part of their service.

Form NC6, available from the ESB Networks website, should be submitted well in advance of any grid tie-in (at least 4 weeks) to allow ESB Networks to undertake any impact studies they deem necessary.

NC6 is a straight forward one page form which includes:

  • Name, address and co-ordinates of the site
  • Contact details
  • MPRN number
    • The unique number assigned to each meter point
    • It is printed on the top of your bill
  • Installer contact details
  • Make, model and serial number of inverter (grid connected electronics)
  • Declaration of conformance with "Conditions governing the connection and operation of microgeneration" including EN 50438.
  • Details of generating unit
    • Make and model
    • Type of technology (wind, PV, micro-hydro, micro-CHP etc.)
    • Unit rating and phases generated

Type-test certification for the inverter (the unit tying the system into the grid) should accompany the NC6 form. The certification required should declare conformance with EN 50438 which is the appropriate standard for grid connected units. Suppliers should provide customers with this paperwork if they are submitting the NC6 form themselves.

A microgenerator will need an import/export meter to avail of any payment for exported energy. The import/export meter currently available in Ireland is referred to as an 'interval meter'. It is now supplied automatically and for free to customers when they submit the NC6 form.


Back to top

Can I get a smart meter installed or how can a microgenerator get involved in the smart metering pilot?

It is worth pointing out that the interval meter which is available from ESB Networks is different from the smart meter which will be piloted around Ireland in 2009/2010. The interval meter is existing technology and the smart meter will be a new technology with new supporting infrastructure.

The Commission for Energy Regulation is over-seeing the smart meter trials and can be contacted on 01 4000800. With the availability of free interval meters the inclusion of microgenerators in the smart metering trials is no longer necessary for access to payment for export.

Existing microgenerators may be interested in getting an interval meter installed to avail of the export tariffs which are available. The microgeneration field trials are separate from the smart metering pilot.


Back to top

 

Can I request an import/export meter from ESB Networks?

The distribution system operator (ESB Networks) has made available, at no cost to the customer, 4,000 electronic import/export meters which are more intelligent than the standard electro-mechanical meter. These 'interval meters' should not be confused with the smart meters which will be piloted from 2009. The interval meters were made available as an interim measure to facilitate payment for export of excess power prior to a decision on a national roll out of smart meters. The availability of interval meters removes the key technical barrier to payment for export. The interval meter is necessary to access any available payments for exported energy. Interval meters will be supplied at no cost to the first 4,000 microgenerators applying over the next 3 years.

An interval meter is supplied automatically once you (a supplier or customer) submit form NC6 to ESB Networks. The NC6 form is available on the ESB Networks website. Existing microgenerators who wish to be grid connected in accordance with current regulations should submit NC6 also.


Back to top

 

What should a customer expect of a microgeneration supplier/installer?

As the microgeneration sector in Ireland is at an early stage of development it is vital for the industry that early adopters of the technology have the best possible experience. It is in the interests of suppliers and installers that a sustainable business is fostered through best practice. Some of the key elements of such a service include, but are not limited to:

  • A comprehensive site assessment and feasibility study.
  • Equipment which is certified in line with relevant standards.
  • Suppliers and installers who have been trained and are competent and are also aware of their responsibilities with respect to health and safety.
  • A period of warranty or guarantee for the products and systems supplied.
  • A high level of after-sales service.

Site assessment

A comprehensive site assessment during a site visit by a competent, trained representative is a basic necessity. Buying a wind turbine in a DIY store or online for example, regardless of site, could turn out to be a mistake. The key elements of a site assessment for a wind turbine are covered in the microgeneration FAQs. A site assessment is a requirement for all microgeneration technologies and not just for wind.

Feasibility study

The site assessment will feed into a report which will indicate if the site is technically and economically viable. If the project is not economically viable or is borderline the customer may wish to go ahead to capture other benefits such as clean and independent energy. Site demand and the timing of that demand will be crucial to the viability of the site. More detailed information on site assessment and viability with regard wind energy is available in the microgeneration FAQs. A feasibility study is not only a requirement for wind installations but with any form of microgeneration. Particular care must be paid to the planning requirements.

Certification and standards

For the purpose of our pilot field trials and on-line register of products and installers SEAI has defined minimum standards regarding the quality, supply and installation of equipment. These standards have been defined with the objectives of ensuring international and national legal requirements are met, the interests of suppliers and customers are protected and public safety is ensured. Training requirements are outlined below and equipment standards and certification are covered separately elsewhere in these FAQs.

Training

Installers of microgeneration should be trained by an accredited training provider before they offer services to customers. Suppliers and installers should check carefully the accreditation of such training providers before enrolling in their courses.

The Renewable Energy Installers Academy in Northern Ireland in conjunction with Action Renewables and SEAI, provide an accredited training course for wind and PV installers. At present there is no legal requirement for installers to have undergone this training in order to operate in the Republic of Ireland. There was however a compulsory training requirement in place for the field trials underway and there will be a requirement for equipment and installer registration with SEAI- similar to previous arrangements for wood pellet boilers and solar thermal panels.

SEAI is of the view that the City & Guilds PV training provides an adequate training base from which to develop their expertise. SEAI is of the view that the combination of accredited classroom based theory and on-site practical training provides an individual with the necessary foundation to become a competent installer of wind turbines. To this end SEAI required wind turbine installers for the field trials and register of installers to have undergone both types of training. The classroom based training should be provided by an accredited training facility. This training can take place in the UK or in Europe but should always be with an accredited training provider.


Renewable Energy Installers Academy (REIA)
in Northern Ireland is, at present, the only accredited wind turbine training provider on the island of Ireland. They also offer accredited PV training. They operate out of a number of institutions and further education colleges in Northern Ireland and the border area. A number of training providers in the Republic are also currently offering accredited PV training. SEAI will maintain an up-to-date list of these accredited sites on the website.

The REIA courses are open to qualified electricians from the Republic. The qualification awarding body is City & Guilds. Candidates for enrollment should be practicing electricians and must provide evidence of minimum entry qualifications to gain entry to the REIA training courses.

The second pillar of necessary wind turbine training, the practical training, should be provided to the installer by the equipment manufacturer. The established turbine manufacturers offer training courses for installers and suppliers of their equipment. In an effort to protect their brand manufacturers may only supply equipment to installers who have undergone this training. The manufacturer will often supervise the first installations of a new installer to ensure that what they have learned on their training courses is being applied and to be there in the event that unforeseen issues arise in practice at a given site - not everything can be covered in training. A combination of the training provided by the REIA/C&G and the practical training provided by a quality manufacturer should equip a wind turbine installer well to provide a good service to clients.

SEAI is developing training and qualification requirements with a view to having a national qualification (FETAC) in place as soon as possible. See the FAQ on future training developments below.

The wiring and sign-off of a grid connected microgeneration system must be completed to ETCI standards as the electrical portion of a microgenerator installation is defined as a 'controlled works' by the Statutory body with responsibility for electrical safety (the CER).The electrician should be a member of a certified trade body such as RECI and ECSSA.

A portion of an installation may also be non-electrical e.g. wind turbine foundations or mast. A supplier should be able to furnish evidence of training and experience throughout the company for these 'sub-systems' - from the site assessor to the mechanical fitters and final commissioning electrician. SEAI has met with the CER (statutory body with responsibility for electrical safety) on measures to ensure the safety of microgeneration systems and has agreed to develop a recommendation on sub-systems certification for the non-electrical elements of micro-generation installations. There will be a FETAC qualification for such works later in 2010.

SEAI will publish a list of trained installers of wind and PV products later in 2010.

Health and Safety

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2006 prescribe the duties and responsibilities of all parties (client and provider) engaged in construction activities with regard health and safety. One of the main duties of a client is the appointment of project supervisors for the design and construction stages of a construction project (PSDS and PSCS). Domestic works are exempt from this requirement unless a trade or business is undertaken on the premises. Turbine suppliers and installers should provide an undertaking that the works will be carried out in line with the requirements of the 2006 regulations. Clients should make themselves familiar with their duties under the regulations.

Warranty

Some manufacturers and suppliers offer warranties with major equipment and parts. SEAI advises customers to ask a selection of suppliers what warranty they offer. Some offer warranties of up to 5 years.


After sales service

A microgeneration system may not always operate to desired performance levels following initial installation. For example with a wind turbine, some issues may not become apparent until certain wind speeds are reached or certain actions are required (braking for example). The response of the installer to a request for a call-out from a customer can be a key factor in determining if the customer has a good experience. SEAI advises prospective customers to make contact with existing customers to gauge their opinion on a supplier or equipment. It is vital for the turbine to be kept operating so that the energy in the wind is not wasted while electricity is imported from the grid.

The availability of after sales service is an advantage local or national suppliers and installers have over cheaper, international online suppliers.


Maintenance

Wind turbines in particular (as with any machine with moving parts) require some level of maintenance and a schedule for routine maintenance will be recommended by the manufacturer. Some claim to be maintenance free and some turbines require more maintenance than others.

The required maintenance of a wind turbine can depend on local conditions such as the amount of turbulence experienced by the turbine and the corrosiveness of the air (sea air contains salts for example). A good quality turbine will have key mechanical and electrical components constructed out of marine grade or corrosion resistant materials such as stainless steel and brass.

Turbulent airflow will demand more of a turbine. The loading and unloading of blades and bearings and the extra movement associated will increase wear and tear. An analogy with cars can be used. The shocks of a car which travels with light loads on smooth roads will last much longer than the same model car on rough roads with heavy loads.

Suppliers may offer a period maintenance contract or offer a per-visit charge. Annual maintenance may be as simple as re-greasing wearing surfaces. SEAI advises customers to ask prospective suppliers what maintenance is required by their turbine manufacturer and ask for an estimate for call-out charges beyond the period covered by the warranty.

Turbines have potential to be dangerous so maintenance should only be carried out by trained individuals. Especially as the turbine will have to be accessed by lowering with a crane or winch or accessed via a raised platform.

Back to top

What does a genuine CE mark signify and why is it necessary?

CE-marking is a basic requirement for products and it is applied to ensure a minimum level of product safety and compliance with relevant European Legislation. It is a fundamental legal requirement for microgeneration equipment being supplied within Europe that they be CE-marked. CE-marking requires a declaration of conformity from a legal entity within Europe that the equipment complies with all relevant EU Directives which in turn require conformity with referenced harmonised EU standards.

More information on the CE-marking of products can be found on the NSAI website. NSAI are the notified body in Ireland for the Low Voltage Directive and should be able to provide manufacturers and suppliers with advice on CE-marking of products. Other notified bodies from around Europe can be contacted through the NANDO site for notified bodies. As the microgeneration industry is in early stages of development European notified bodies such as TUV, Germanischer Lloyd, or DNV have more experience in this area.

Answers to frequently asked questions on CE-marking for electrical products may be found on the NSAI website.

It is illegal to supply microgeneration technology that is not CE-marked within the EU. It is also illegal to use the CE-mark inappropriately on equipment that does not conform to the relevant Directives and referenced harmonised standards. Action may be taken against any supplier who, wittingly or unwittingly, sells non-CE-marked or non-conforming CE-marked equipment within the EU. It is the responsibility of manufacturers, who wish to market their products within the EU, to arrange for CE-marking of those products and manufacturers are required to use the assistance of a "Notified Body" in order that they can legitimately apply the CE-Marking to their product.

CE-marking is not solely concerned with product testing but also the fundamental design of a product. If a product is not designed at the outset with the intent of conforming with relevant EU directives it may inherently not meet the requirements of those directives. Sourcing a product and then trying to get it certified or CE-marked may prove difficult if it wasn't designed to meet such standards from the start.

Back to top

 

What international standards apply to equipment supplied in Ireland?

At present the key applicable standard associated with microgeneration in Ireland is EN 50438. This standard's scope is limited to the point at which the microgenerator connects to the grid and does not apply to the generating equipment (PV panel or turbine for example). The standard applies to the inverter. ESB Networks must be furnished with evidence of compliance with EN 50438 for the grid connection to be approved. ESB Networks' main concerns are that the microgenerator will not export power to a de-energised grid and that the power produced under normal operation will not reduce the quality of the supply to other customers in the area. A de-energised grid, during a power outage (planned or otherwise), will be worked on by technicians. If the inverter allows electricity to be exported to the grid at this time it is a danger to the technicians.

The CE mark should also be in evidence on the major elements of the microgeneration system (e.g. turbine, PV panel, inverter and controller). The CE mark is not a symbol of quality but does show that certain standards have been satisfied by the manufacturer. Further information on CE-marking is outlined elsewhere in these FAQs.

International standards for wind turbines

A wind turbine should be certified to perform in accordance with EN 61400-12 and designed safely to be compliant with EN 61400-2. EN 61400-2 includes the classification of small wind turbines with regard the wind speeds and conditions for which the turbine is designed. Class I and II winds are commonplace in Ireland and many turbines are not designed to withstand the high gusts or average wind speeds experienced in our climate.

ClassIIIIIIIV
 m/smphm/smphm/smphm/smph
Vref5011242.59537.5843067
Vave10228.5197.517613


Table 3: Small wind turbine classes

Table 3 shows the classification of small wind turbines as prescribed in EN 61400-2. Vref is the reference wind speed for each turbine. A turbine designed with a Vref of 112 mph is designed to withstand climates for which the extreme 10 minute average wind speed with a recurrence period of 50 years at the turbine hub height is lower than or equal to 112 mph. Vave is the annual average wind speed at hub height.

The performance of the turbine in relation to noise should be in line with EN 61400-11. These are international standards. A manufacturer can self-declare compliance with the safety standard EN 61400-2. Proof of compliance with EN 61400-12 and EN 61400-11 is achieved by putting the turbine through rigorous tests. The test must be carried out by an accredited test facility and not the manufacturer or a non-accredited facility. Customers should check the accreditation of the test facilities appearing on the test reports because they may not be as professional as the document may portray. Product testing centres, accredited to test the various international standards are listed on the site of the European co-operation for Accreditation.

As different manufacturers of wind turbines have tested and certified their products to varying degrees, we have not defined a strict set of requirements but a hierarchy of preferences according to the level of rigour of the testing and certification processes involved. As the SEAI small and micro-scale grant scheme was discretionary, the assurance provided by a more rigorous test and certification regime will form a consideration in the evaluation of the quality of applications to the scheme. Products will be listed on the register of equipment in line with this same hierarchy. Further details are available here. This hierarchy will apply to wind turbines alone as a number of PV panels in particular have full accredited test reports to international standards.

International standards for Solar PV

Like wind turbines Solar PV panels have international standards to which they must conform. All solar p-v products should comply with EN 61215:2005 "Crystalline silicon terrestrial photovoltaic (PV) modules - Design qualification and type approval" or EN 61646:1977 "Thin film terrestrial photovoltaic (PV) modules - Design qualification and type approval". Evidence of compliance should be made available to customers and will be required in the form of a test report from an accredited test laboratory if the product is to apply for listing on the SEAI register of products.

Photovoltaic modules should also be tested for efficiency in accordance with IEC 61853 - 3 "Performance testing and energy rating of terrestrial photovoltaic (PV) modules" or quoted in terms of Standard Test Conditions.
Standard test conditions for PV are:

  • 1000 W/m2
  • Spectrum AM of 1.5G; And
  • Cell temperature of 250oC.

Datasheets supplied should be consistent with EN50380 "Datasheets and Nameplate Information of Photovoltaic Modules".

Product testing centres, accredited to test the various international standards are listed on the site of the European co-operation for Accreditation.

International standards for small and micro-hydro turbines

All hydroelectric generators should have performance test reports to "International code for the field acceptance tests of hydraulic turbines" IEC 60041 or if applied, in accordance with the "International code for the model acceptance tests" IEC 60193. Independent verification of test reports to the standards should be sought and will be required as evidence if the turbine is to be listed on the SEAI register of products.

Product testing centres, accredited to test the various international standards are listed on the site of the European co-operation for Accreditation.


Back to top

 

What are the plans for a national qualification in microgeneration for electricians or non-electricians?

As outlined elsewhere in these FAQs the Renewable Energy Installer's Academy in Northern Ireland offers accredited training to electricians from the Republic. The EU INTERREG funded the establishment of the Renewable Energy Installers Academy, a collaborative project between Action Renewables and SEAI, in 2004.

The project developed the template for accredited training for installers of renewable heat and electricity producing technologies. The training standard for heat producing appliances (wood pellet boilers, solar thermal panels etc.) have been registered with BPEC in the UK and with FETAC in RoI. Course material was also developed and courses in the thermal technologies are being delivered by a number of training providers.

Training Standards for solar p-v and wind installers were also developed by the project. The wind course has been registered with City & Guilds as a customized award and the solar course was adopted from the C&G course: "Certificate in Installing and Testing Domestic Photovoltaic Systems (2372)". These courses are currently being provided by North West College and South West College in Northern Ireland with plans to bring them to colleges in the boarder counties of the Republic.

In order to meet the need for training for micro-generator installers in the short to medium term, it is proposed to build upon work carried out by SEAI and Action Renewables through the REIA project, and to adapt the courses developed specifically for the regulatory regime in the Republic of Ireland and to fully meet the training needs of installers here.

An ultimate objective is the development of a competency requirement within the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ), SEAI is working in collaboration with FETAC, FÁS, the CER, the ETCI, Industry Groups and training providers through a Standards Development Group in accordance with FETAC's 'Formation and Organisation of Standards Development Groups'. As a first activity a 'Sector Needs Analysis' will be carried out. The ultimate objective is developing a specification of training material and competency requirements for installers of wind and solar p-v micro-generation installations and in the development of interim training programmes.

The required competency will be set in the context of existing awards and competency levels defined in the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) and appropriate entry level requirements will be considered.

SEAI is procuring the services of specialist resources to assist in the development of training programmes and defining the competency requirements for micro-generator installers.

There are two principal activities:

  • Development of a National Standard for training for the long term.
  • Interim training arrangements based on REIA training materials.

Interim arrangements for training and competency assessment will be required pending the development of a national award for installers within the NFQ.

With regard to the issue of the involvement of qualified electricians with micro-generator installations, the installation and connection of a micro-generator comes within the definition of a "controlled works" in the national wiring rules and a completion certificate for the generator installation and wiring, signed by a qualified electrician, must be submitted to ESB Networks before the network connection of a micro-generator can be energised. SEAI has met with the CER (statutory body with responsibility for electrical safety) on measures to ensure the safety of microgeneration systems and has agreed to develop a recommendation on sub-systems certification for the non-electrical elements of micro-generation installations.

Back to top

 
  rss icon
   

Important information regarding cookies and seai.ie

By using this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with the SEAI Cookie Policy.

For more information on cookies see our cookie policy.