MCS Certified wind turbines – a safe investment? Eoltec is back on the list.

From time to time I comment on the list of approved wind turbines that qualify for the hefty Feed-in-Tariffs that are being dished out and that make small wind turbines a Money Earner (potentially) in the UK lately.

I am glad to see Bergey Windpower on the list now.  That’s not because I think the Bergey is a specially good turbine.  It’s because the US company look after their customers.

Small wind companies  have a poor record for looking after their customers.  Proven for example before their demise left a wake of unhappy folk and problems that took too long or forever to resolve.  From being the longest established and best known, they went bust and left hundreds of people stranded with turbines that could not be run, and that lost their MCS status.  Now these turbine owners can get a solution with VG Energy and that is wonderful.  But their experience highlights how little security the (very expensive) MCS testing process offers to the buyer.  Whilst excluding all small and DIY operators from the money game.

Eoltec are now back on this ‘approved’ list.  However it’s important to know that there a still a lot of unhappy customers out there who do not have working turbines and who are not being helped out by the French company or by their (now very quiet) former UK agents.  See for example the comments on my last posting about Eoltec a year ago.

HERE IS A MESSAGE FROM AN UNHAPPY OWNER:  “This is a call to any frustrated owners of Eoltec 6KW machines that have found themselves without a working machine, no access to spare parts and no joy from the machine manufacturer.
I bought an Eoltec 6KW machine in 2007 and I have had problems from day one. The machine never worked for a full warranty period of 2 years without an issue. The machine has not generated one unit of power since November 2010 and I only received the first written response from Eoltec ever last week through the UK ECC( European Consumer Centre). They are blaming installation/maintenance for my problems. The issues with my machine are design/manufacture related and so responsibility lies solely at the door of Eoltec and no one else. I paid top price, as have you, for a machine it seems that was never engineered or tested properly.
I would like to rally together some sort of joint effort to force Eoltec to own up to their responsibility in relation to these machines. If you would like to be involved then please forward your details to eoin(at)seres.ie.”

If you have a site with good wind then the most important thing about any small wind turbine that you buy or build is whether it will be reliable.  And if it breaks down (which is a feature of small wind turbines) then how long will it take to fix.  MCS certification, while adding a lot of cost to the wind business, has not improved the reliability of small wind turbines dramatically if at all.

Unhappy owners in the UK need to make their first legal claim against the installer/supplier in the UK.  If these agents are bankrupt then there is an insurance available through the MCS structure, but the whole mechanism is somewhat obscure and has failed to work for most stranded owners.  And community groups are not covered in any case.

About hugh

I live off-grid in NW Scotland and have spent my life playing with wind turbines. I also love small hydros. Hands on renewable energy is my thing and I like to learn and to share my experiences.
This entry was posted in products/technical, UK small wind scene. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to MCS Certified wind turbines – a safe investment? Eoltec is back on the list.

  1. David Simms says:

    I’m not quite sure whether I agree with admin’s comment about breakdowns being a feature of small turbines. Perhaps breakdowns might be more prevalent in an environment where inexperienced people set them up or where the product has shortcomings in the way it was engineered. Nature can dish out some daunting challenges. That’s for sure.
    In terms of the Eoltec, it’s a two-bladed design which has inherent difficulties insofar as vibration. I’d be interested in seeing a map of Eoltec installations and failures. Have environmental conditions played their part in the failures ?
    For instance, what about those sites -I’ve read the references presented here regarding the Eoltec- (and, I guess I’m thinking of the Orkneys) where Eoltecs were mounted on 12 meter towers ? In those high-wind-speed areas, I would imagine extreme challenges when you add shear to two-bladed vibration and you throw in ground-induced vibration. Maybe the tower harmonics were also less than friendly.

    I’m not trying to play the devil’s advocate or to blame the users for any shortcomings insofar as the machines are concerned but, surely, low towers would not enhance the reliability of any turbine, two or three bladed.

  2. admin says:

    Hi David,

    Thanks for commenting. My name is Hugh. WordPress chooses to call me admin for some reason. I have lived with small wind turbines for 35 years. At first I thought that breakdowns where entirely my fault. Later I discovered that they are almost universal. Small wind is not an easy path, as some venture capitalists have discovered whilst ‘throwing money’ at doing small wind for profit in the UK.

    Manufacturers are often quick to blame the customer or the installer, or ‘turbulence’ but the reality is that people follow instructions (mostly), and have imperfect sites. Good instructions and a robust turbine are rare. If the turbine is so vulnerable that it must not be exposed to turbulence then it’s the manufacturer’s fault for not making this totally clear. The reality is that sh1t happens, and small wind is a bit of a danger zone in that respect.

    You are right that low towers make for a rougher ride. Although the landscape in the Orkneys is a bit different from most of the UK! Again low towers are part of the real world here in the UK. Is the Eoltec now proof against turbulent conditions? Are the new agents refusing to instal on towers less than 10 metres above the tree tops, etc? I doubt it.

    My point here is that buyers need to check out the history of the product. Most are imperfect. But some supply chains look after the end user. Ampair for example are paying their customers for lost tariffs whilst working on solutions. Fortis leave a trail of unhappy people. Seek out the satisfied customer.

  3. Antony Turner says:

    Surely this must now sound the final death knell for the MCS?

    When I first read this thread title, I thought it was in relation to safety – But its only in relation to a safe investment – Yet these turbines are a death trap waiting to happen but are still on the MCS list?

    We have just come back from a week in Orkney, taking in the annual agricultural shows and the Riding of the Marches. Our B&B hosts had an Evance 5 kW turbine, and they, along with some of the microwind installers and suppliers we spoke to at some of the shows had some horror stories of the Eoltec turbines, both in Orkney and elsewhere in the UK.

    We heard of the turbines that had been installed at some schools, but have now been taken away after one of them came off the top of the pole. We also heard of the turbines where the blades have fallen off, the tails have fallen off, the speed control system has gone haywire and the turbines have run out of control and others which have completely come off the tops of the poles.

    How can this be a certified turbine under MCS? Proven and Evoco turbines were taken off the list after just 2 or 3 minor failures. We heard of dozens of failures involving heavy bits of metal falling off, the blades becoming detached, or even the complete turbine. We also heard that the manufacturer has left all the owners with broken turbines in the lurch, with no support or replacement parts for their turbines, and installers left with no access to support to be able to help owners. This seems to be echoed in other postings above and on this blog.

    Surely it must now be time to do away with MCS, and let people build their own turbines, be able to install them themselves and access the Feed in Tarriff? Just because a turbine is MCS certified very obviously doesnt mean it is safe, reliable or efficient, and there must be plenty of budding DIY’s out there who can make a turbine that it safer and better than some of the ones that have certification.

  4. R Manson says:

    I am treasurer of our Community Assn. in Orkney.
    In July 2010 we installed a wind to heat system, in our Centre, with the help of a grant from CES. The turbine, a Eoltec 6kW, failed in January 2012 with the bolts holding the yaw bearing shearing.
    The turbine had a 5 year warranty.
    I am very happy to report that the turbine is now up and running again thanks to the new UK agent- Pure Energy Centre, Unst, Shetland.
    Eoltec supplied all the parts that were required and the Pure Energy Centre did the work. We are all very pleased with the outcome.

  5. frandz says:

    Hi Manson

    I hopes your solution is permenant, as this seems to be a frequent promblem. My nephew has spent many hours trying to solve the same issues with his turbine with no successes and in his researches has found many similar people with the same problems. He attended a wind conference in the USA some years before where a paper was presented with the same issue you describe on a Eoltec turbine that falled to the ground.

    I hope your breakage does not repeat soon but I would not be too amazed if it does.

  6. wind power says:

    Dear Hugh,
    I was wondering on a similar note,, I installed solar PV costing �11000+, It is MCS-certified plus qualifies for Feed In Tariff repayments from first July, the date of its initial Generation Meter reading. It has been exporting electricity to the Grid since that date: considered, beneath FIT, to be 50% of output. Npower received my application for FIT Payments on 4th August. Ofgem plus the Energy Saving Trust state I cannot receive FIT Payments for the intervening period. I cannot find where the law says that or which my electricity is taken plus chosen by Ofgem without my being paid for it. So far, I have looked at the 2008 Energy Act, 2010 Electricity Act, plus Schedule A to Ofgem’s Standard Conditions 33 plus 34. My reading there is that FIT is payable for any period where there is a valid Generation Meter reading. Total output 1July to 1 August was 573 kWh. The payment equation is: 573 kWh x 43.3p FIT + 286 x 3p export payment = �256. Arising from which, moreover,has the exported electricity ben stolen from me if Ofgem won’t pay for it?
    Cheerio

  7. Janice says:

    I don’t think I am alone in my concern in hearing that these turbines are coming back to the schools
    http://en-gb.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150997400152168&set=a.222229797167.114824.31395967167&type=1&theater
    We heard that these turbines were supposed to be checked to be safe so they could qualify for the tarriffs, but why do they keep doing what the picture on Facebook shows? This looks like what happened to the one at the Tankerness Hall which is not far from the playing field. Are these really safe enough to put back at our kids schools?

  8. Hi Hugh
    I bought 2 Evoco Energy Turbines they starts running in January 2013 in January 2014 they stopped running after numerous problems, Both the installer Eco Environments and Evoco Energy have gone into liquidation. Nether has put me in touch with there insurance. the turbines had a 5 year warranty. I was reading you blog and you state that people can claim through the MCS structure. please could you give me more details of that. I contacted the MCS in April 2014 They passed me on the various agencies, only NIC ICE contacted me after about 8 weeks they said it was a manufacturing problem I could have told them that. in the mean time I decided to take court action for loss of earnings. When I then contact the MCS again and now the BRE they will not help because of the court action, but I wont get anything through the courts because both companies are in liquidation. But one of the companies should have insurance Produce Liability warranty liability safety liability .
    Can you offer any advice all will be appreciated.
    Regards Catherine Billington

    • Mr john baker says:

      Hello Catherine I am a farmer in North Yorkshire and we have an evoco there has been quite a lot of issues with it but it seem to run better now.We bought it in 2012 and it has been shut down twice.I have only just found out that evoco have gone bust.The directors should be made to go bankrupt and reposses there cars and house see how they feel then.If u look at the directors company profile they set up numerous company’s run for 2 years then take our money and I call them rouge traders not directors.Our reseller is currently still in business but I expect they will be rushing to call in the receivers.Keep me posted on how u get on!

  9. Gordon Campbell says:

    Hi I have an Evance 5kw turbine that was installed under a year ago and have had issues with it.They have now decided that it is sticky bearings and even though Evance will provide parts free of charge my installer refuses to do the work under warranty as Evance have been bought over by Ecotricity.Can you please tell me if there is any where I can go with this and has anyone else had a similar problem?Thanks.

    • admin says:

      hi Gordon,
      My source of wisdom on such matters has spoken as follows:

      “Without knowing the details of the original warranty & contract between the installer and Evance I can’t comment on the offer. My understanding is that Britwind are honouring the original warranty, but that is a “parts-only” warranty unless I am misinformed (and of course I may be). Therefore if the installer was originally obligated to provide their time for free by way of their contract with Evance, they are probably no longer obligated. But the contract between the customer and the installer should still stand – what does it say ?

      “My suggestion is that the owner write directly to Britwind. For now the only address seems to be http://www.evancewind.com/contact-us .”

      I hope this helps 🙂
      Hugh

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