By Natalie Mouyal, 26 June 2020
This story originally appeared on the International Electrotechnical Commission Blog
Access to affordable and reliable energy is a basic need. Not only is it one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) established by the United Nations in its framework for building a better world by 2030, but also a vital tool for achieving all SDGs.
Yet, the World Bank Group’s Lighting Global estimates that over 700 million people worldwide lack access to electricity while a further 789 million people do not have reliable access to electricity. Lighting Global works to bring sustainable and affordable electricity to homes using off-grid renewable energy.
Since the establishment of Lighting Africa in 2009, the precursor to Lighting Global, the number of households without electricity has been reduced by over 400 million. Off-grid renewable energy solutions have become a critical component in helping homes access electricity and achieving the SDGs.
Using standards to foster energy access
Lighting Global established its Quality Assurance Framework and Quality Standards to ensure that products met minimum performance and safety requirements. In June, the Lighting Global Quality Standards became an official IEC Technical Specification known as IEC TS 62257-9-8.
IEC TS 62257-9-8 sets the baseline requirements for the quality, durability and advertising accuracy for stand-alone renewable energy products with the aim of protecting consumers. The evaluation of these requirements is based on the test methods defined in IEC TS 62257-9-5. Both of these publications are part of the IEC 62257 series which focus on rural electrification.
According to Chris Carlsen from Verasol, the newly launched quality-assurance program, IEC 62257-9-8 and IEC 62257-9-5 are the two main pillars to the Quality Assurance Framework. “IEC 62257-9-5 provides the detailed instructions for carrying out product sampling and testing while IEC 62257-9-8 specifies the minimum criteria that a quality product must meet,” he said.
IEC 62257-9-8 is applicable to both pico-photovoltaic products, which include small, portable devices such as lanterns and flashlights, as well as solar home systems (SHS) which can be used for home lighting systems and certain appliances. Products must include: a) a battery or other storage device, b) a power generating device such as a solar panel that is capable of charging the battery and the necessary cables, and c) wiring and connectors required to connect the battery and energy generating device together.
Benefits of standardization
Following the maturation of the off-grid pico-solar market and in response to requests from national governments, Lighting Global submitted its Quality Standards to the IEC for standardization. IEC TS 62257-9-8 is expected to become the foundational standard for this market.
Arne Jacobson, Technical Lead for Lighting Global Quality Assurance, helped to shepherd the Lighting Global Quality Standards through the IEC standardization process as co-chair for the joint working group for off-grid photovoltaic (PV) systems within the IEC. He notes that “Adoption and publication of IEC 62257-9-8 will enable even more widespread implementation of these standards by national governments, development agencies, and the private sector, thereby contributing to a harmonized approach to quality assurance, safety, and consumer protection for this growing and dynamic sector”.
Jacobson continued adding, “Because governments are familiar with the IEC, the adoption of the standards can enable more widespread and homogenized adoption of standards by many countries because governments trust IEC standards.”
Itotia Njagi, head of Lighting Global, concurs, “The Lighting Global team submitted the document to the IEC to facilitate a harmonized adoption of the standards by governments. Governments are very comfortable adopting IEC standards, so we knew that publication of our standards as IEC 62257-9-8 would enable widespread use across several countries and programmes benefitting millions of end-users of off-grid solar products and to the sector more broadly.”
As a result of standardization through the IEC, a few changes have been made to the initial specification regarding the requirements for performance reporting, ports and batteries as well as to health and safety.
Boosting an emerging market
Because the market for off-grid, renewable energy products is embryonic, international standards can provide a catalyst for building trust between manufacturers, consumers, and governments. They bring credibility to the technologies while also protecting consumers. Manufacturers benefit from harmonized regulations and a reduction in barriers to trade that allow them to enter new markets.
Greenlight Planet, one of the leading companies in the off-grid solar sector and its products have powered over five million homes. According to its CEO and founder T. Patrick Walsh, “Internationally-recognized quality standards have been critical to the development of the off-grid solar sector over the past decade, allowing governments and end consumers alike to understand and trust this transformative new model for energy access”.
According to the Lighting Global Market Trends Report, the potential market for off-grid products remains strong. In the past ten years, the industry has become a USD 1,75 billion annual market serving 420 million people. And between 2017 and 2019, revenues grew 30 percent annually.
“The quality standards in IEC 62257-9-8 provide a foundation for quality, safety, and consumer protection in the off-grid solar market. Widespread implementation of these standards will help build consumer confidence and expand global adoption. More importantly, this will build investor confidence and increase the necessary investment for market growth,” Itotia said.
Demand for products will continue as efforts intensify to provide energy access to all households around the world. And while pico-PV products comprise the majority of stand-alone renewable energy products, the market share of solar home systems is growing and allowing households to power multiple LED lights, fans, television sets and small refrigerators. Innovative business models, such as pay-as-you-go financing, are increasing their market share and accounted for 24 percent of unit sales in the first half of 2019.
Achieving the SDGs
SDG 7 calls for access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030. Efforts by Lighting Global, together with its partners, have already enabled over 50 million people to meet their basic energy needs since 2009, made possible by the sale of 42 million products that meet Lighting Global’s Quality Assurance Framework.
文 | Natalie Mouyal 2020年6月26日
本文原文发布于国际电工委员会 IEC 网站博客
IEC TS 62257-9-8为独立运行的可再生能源产品设定了质量，耐久性和广告真实性方面的基准要求，用以保护消费者的权益。对这些要求的评估基于IEC TS 62257-9-5中定义的测试方法。这两项技术规范都属于IEC 62257系列规范的一部分，该系列规范的关注点是农村电气化。
来自Verasol的Chris Carlsen表示，新发布的质量保证项目IEC 62257-9-8和IEC 62257-9-5是质量保证框架的两个主要支柱。他表示：“ IEC 62257-9-5提供了产品抽样和测试的详细说明，而IEC 62257-9-8指定了合格产品必须满足的最低标准。”
随着离网微型太阳能市场的日趋成熟，且应各国政府的要求，点亮全球将其质量标准提交给IEC进行标准化处理。预计IEC TS 62257-9-8将成为该市场的基础标准。
点亮全球质量保证的技术负责人Arne Jacobson作为IEC内部离网光伏系统联合工作组的联合主席，通过IEC标准化流程帮助制定了点亮全球质量标准。他指出，“IEC 62257-9-8的采用和发布将使各国政府，开发机构和私营部门能够更广泛地实施这些标准，从而为这个不断发展和充满活力的行业提供一种统一的方法来保证质量，确保安全和保护消费者。”
点亮全球负责人Itotia Njagi对此表示赞同，“点亮全球团队向IEC提交了文件，以促进各国政府统一采用这些标准。由于各国政府很乐于采用IEC标准，我们由此知道，将我们的标准作为IEC 62257-9-8发布可以使它在多个国家和项目中得到广泛使用，使数百万离网太阳能产品的终端用户和整个行业从中获益。”
Greenlight Planet是离网太阳能领域的领先公司之一，其产品已为超过500万户家庭供电。根据其首席执行官兼创始人T. Patrick Walsh的说法，“在过去十年中，国际公认的质量标准对于离网太阳能行业的发展至关重要，这能促使政府和终端消费者理解和信任这种变革性的能源获取新模式。”