This international accreditation means that HGC Engineering has demonstrated that it has the compulsory laboratory quality management system in-place, and the required technical competence, to consistently produce valid, calibrated, test and measurement results demanded by renewable wind energy project operators, wind turbine manufacturers, and local municipalities and communities.
HGC Engineering is now part of a small, select group of international consultants that can complete accredited acoustic noise emission measurements of wind turbines.
In the province of Ontario, where HGC Engineering is headquartered, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) has required, in nearly every wind energy project Renewable Energy Approval (REA), that this type of testing be completed on at least one of each type of wind turbine in a project.
Because of the greater scrutiny of noise assessments and audits around this burgeoning renewable energy source, acquiring precise acoustical data for analysis as quickly and efficiently as possible has never been more in demand or more critical for all concerned.
The arduous process of accreditation began in 2014 driven by the HGC Wind Energy Division’s desire to meet the rigorous demands of global wind turbine manufacturers and regulators who, today, routinely require that verification measurements of wind turbine noise emissions, as set out in IEC-61400-11, be conducted by an independent measurement consultant who is accredited to ISO/IEC 17025.
“Valid measurement data is essential for use in verification audits or warranty claim issues against manufacturers by operators, or for investigations into noise complaints by neighboring wind farm communities or municipalities”, explains Brian Howe, President of HGC Engineering and an internationally recognized authority on wind turbine noise. “To maintain our market leadership and continue to offer cutting-edge, unassailable data to all industry interests requires that we continue to invest in, and stay up-to-date on noise assessment best practices and technologies. There is no resting on our laurels.”
ISO/IEC 17025:2005 accredited acoustical consultants
To that end, HGC Engineering is now not only one of a handful of North American based ISO/IEC 17025:2005 accredited acoustical consultants, they are now also one of the few groups in the US and Canada to deploy RoBin, a European engineered, state-of-the-art measurement and analysis system which streamlines IEC-61400-11 testing. What advantages does RoBin bring to wind turbine noise assessments?
Conducting wind turbine noise measurements to IEC 61400-11 standards
IEC-61400-11 standards demand that three different sets of data, (sound pressure, wind speed & direction, and turbine electrical power) all be captured in situ, simultaneously. The test standard also requires that these outputs be tracked and ‘binned’ in wind speed intervals and then analyzed so that an average value of sound power output can be obtained in each bin and later evaluated for compliance.
What makes this protocol especially challenging for acoustical engineers is that different kinds of data must be gathered synchronistically under variable field conditions, using different kinds of equipment at different field positions: acoustical data is gathered using a sound level monitor that must be placed at a specified distance downwind of a turbine; meteorological data must be acquired using an anemometer placed upwind 10 metres above the ground; and operational data must be collected from the wind turbine itself.
Gathering and merging the results of these disparate data sources can be not only time consuming, but can also cause delays since analysis time is required to determine if sufficient data has been obtained. When insufficient data is collected due to unfavorable weather conditions, field measurements must be postponed, potentially leading to project delays, extra costs and feelings of frustration by all impacted industry and community participants.
Integrated infield software/hardware solution
RoBin’s integrated infield software/hardware solution by Wölfel of Germany, allows acoustical, meteorological, and operational data streams to be consolidated, viewed and verified simultaneously for integrity in real-time via a wireless network.
“This investment in state-of-the-art technology, coupled with our measurement and testing expertise, and new ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation, means we can continue to offer uncompromising responsiveness, accuracy and customer satisfaction to the wind energy industry and all its impacted stakeholders”, notes Ian Bonsma, Senior Engineer and Manager of HGC Engineering’s Wind Energy Division. “This unrivalled value proposition of speed and technical prowess has been very well received by our clients in North America and has led to growing interest and demand for our services around the world.”