Scaling up efficiency and renewables through standardization

Call for policy makers to work more closely with International Standards Development Organizations

By Janice Blondeau

With global energy demand forecast to increase by 33% between now and 2025, the IEC co-hosted a workshop on International Standards in support of energy efficiency and renewable energy policies in Paris on 13 March 2014.

Public and private sectors need to work hand-in-hand to advance energy efficiency and renewable energy standards

Changes on the energy horizon

To support the global economy and mitigate the effects of climate change, scaling up both EE (Energy efficiency) and RE (Renewable energy) is crucial. The workshop, co-hosted with IEA(International Energy Agency) and ISO (International Organization for Standardization), brought together policymakers, international standardization organizations, industry and other key stakeholders to address how they can work more closely together on these two key aspects of meeting the energy challenge. The workshop participants stressed that only when private and public stakeholders work hand-in-hand will it be possible to put in place technology-independent decision-making processes, well-designed policies and the right technology systems.

As part of these efforts International Standards are essential to create the certainty and clarity needed for market development and to allow investors to develop viable business models. In addition, a combination of effective energy policies and private sector investment in clean technologies is needed to move towards more sustainable energy systems.

Scaling-up with policies and standards aligned

The workshop made a series of recommendations for the scaling up of these two vital areas.

  • International standards should be used in support of EE and RE policies. Most if not all technical solutions are globally relevant so needs identified nationally or regionally should be brought to the international level as soon as possible to support global advances in EE and RE.
  • Public and private sectors should work hand-in-hand. For industry it’s important that the marketplace has a level playing field and for policymakers it’s important to reduce risk, without hindering the market. International standards should be developed in response to policy ambitions and conversely, policy may also be influenced by technical developments. Working in alignment on a global scale will accelerate advances in EE and the use of RE.
  • Transparency and collaboration are key. Many efforts are underway to map policy and standardization needs in EE and RE. An early exchange of information at the international level between the policymakers and the standards developing organizations would enhance alignment. A more proactive, targeted outreach by standardisation bodies and policymakers is therefore encouraged to improve communication and interaction.
  • Systemic and holistic approaches are necessary. In the words of Lord Kelvin “if you can’t measure things, you can’t improve them”, but measuring something is only the very first step towards finding a solution that will make a difference on the ground. Nowadays, standards need to cover topics such as installation, operation and maintenance as well as performance and safety. Cross sector approaches should be used as efficiencies typically show up across the whole system.
  • Coherent direction is required. Governments need to be clear about the policy objectives for EE and RE and should align policies as far as possible so that international standards can be developed in support of these goals.

Practical ways to address the energy challenge

In this equation, the IEC provides the solid technical foundation that enables the safe and consistent roll-out of the large majority of electrical and electronic technology solutions that achieve concrete energy efficiency improvements.

The IEC believes that smart electrification – the intelligent and economic use of electricity as a major energy source – will be one of the most significant factors in addressing the energy challenge and increasing energy efficiency. In this sense, building energy efficiency directly into devices and systems must be a key goal to significantly and consistently reduce energy consumption.

An IEC perspective

At the workshop, the growing role of International Standards in policy development was presented by Richard Schomberg, Chairman of the IEC Smart Energy Systems Committee, of IEC TC (Technical Committee) 8 System aspects for electrical energy supply and of IEC PC (Project Committee) 118 Smart Grid User Interface. He gave practical examples of a systems approach to energy efficiency and Smart Grids.

Ralph Sporer, chair of IEC ACEE (Advisory Committee on Energy Efficiency), spoke about IEC’s on-going energy e¬fficiency developments and perspectives. Frank Ormel, of IEC TC 88 Wind turbines, spoke about the new IECRE (IEC Renewable Energy Conformity Assessment System).

Making new energy solutions marketable

The IEC provides the large majority of International technical Standards for the safe, reliable and efficient generation and transmission of electric energy from traditional and all renewable energy sources. The share of renewable sources in energy generation is forecast to reach nearly a third of total generation by 2035. IEC work provides the globally relevant solid technical foundation to make new energy solutions broadly marketable. It helps increase the reliability and affordability of new technologies, and enables performance comparisons with existing technologies.

The IEC remains committed to advancing International Standards for energy efficiency and renewable energy, in close consultation with policymakers, as part of its efforts to provide solutions to the global energy challenge.

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siemens_parabolic_trough_Lebrija_Spain03 ...and renewable energy was the theme of the IEA IEC ISO workshop