Turning on the lights
The 1,2 billion people who live without access to the power grid spend about USD 27 billion each year on lighting and mobile-phone charging with kerosene, candles, battery torches or other fossil-fuel powered technologies, according to the Off-grid solar market trends report 2016, commissioned by the World Bank through its Lighting Global programme.
Solar powered light and home kits are cheaper, cleaner and more efficient and in the last five years, this industry has seen rapid growth. Pico-solar products, by definition have a photovoltaic (PV) panel smaller than 10W, and the large majority are portable lights. According to the report, by mid-2015, 20 million pico-solar devices had been sold, improving energy access for around 89 million people in Africa and Asia.
Pico-solar goes mainstream
Pico-solar is becoming mainstream for millions of people who cannot wait for the traditional grid infrastructure to reach them. Additionally, as solar power home systems continue to evolve, the report estimates that by 2020 seven million off-grid households in the developing world will use solar-powered fans and 15 million solar-powered televisions.
Ensuring quality products
In the pico-solar industry, the market share of cheap generic or unbranded products is at least as big as that of the quality-brand market. For this reason it is imperative to make sure that these vital products are up to standard.
The IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components (IECEE) offers global testing and certification systems based on International Standards, to ensure safety, quality, efficiency and overall performance of components, devices and equipment for homes, offices and health facilities, including for pico-solar products.
IEC Technical Committee (TC) 82: Solar photovoltaic energy systems, produced a Technical Specification, IEC TS 62257-9-5:2013, which covers recommendations for small renewable energy and hybrid systems for rural electrification including the selection of stand-alone lighting kits.
Lighting Global aims to provide an opportunity to reduce the presence of low quality products in these markets through the Lighting Global Quality Assurance (QA) framework, which is based on IEC TS 62257-9-5.
Find out more about how International Standards are being used globally to certify products in the e-tech article Electricity access for everyone, everywhere.