Quality Assurance Program Update: Management Transition

IFC first started working with industry to develop the Lighting Global Quality Assurance Program in 2008. Since then, IFC has managed the program’s operations—in partnership with technical advisor Humboldt State University / Schatz Energy Research Center, test laboratories, and industry stakeholders—to bring assurance to buyers and investors in off-grid solar technology. Lighting Global has worked with industry and a wide range of stakeholders to evolve the standards and promote their adoption in order to enable innovation and support the market’s development.

Lighting Global Quality Assurance has grown with the industry. Currently over 110 quality-verified products are on offer globally from over 40 manufacturers, with sales of over 25 million quality-verified products to date. Now that the underlying test methods have been adopted by the IEC, a global quality assurance framework has been established. National governments are adopting IEC/Lighting Global quality standards for their markets at a growing rate.

IFC established the Lighting Global Quality Assurance framework to meet a need that nobody else was addressing at the time. It has long been the objective of IFC to establish Lighting Global Quality Assurance as a self-sustaining independent entity that can evolve with the needs of the industry and grow independently of IFC.

We believe that such a multi-stakeholder collaboration is the future of quality assurance for the sector. In support of that vision, IFC has been working with industry (in partnership with GOGLA), a network of independent test labs, the IEC, and the international non-governmental organization CLASP, to build the foundation for an independent Lighting Global Quality Assurance Program going forward.

While IFC’s Lighting Global market development programs will continue to support the sector through global thought leadership, global partnerships, and country-level market development programs, the Lighting Global Quality Assurance Program has begun its next phase—with operational management of the standard-setting and quality verification moving outside of IFC’s operations.

We are pleased to announce that we have reached a milestone in that process. Effective immediately, responsibility for operating the Lighting Global Quality Assurance Program is being transitioned to CLASP, an independent organization with a nearly 20-year track record of helping to develop and implement best-in-class energy efficiency standards and related market acceleration programs all over the world.

The team you have been working with from Humboldt State University will continue to support Lighting Global Quality Assurance in this partnership with CLASP. The continuity of the operational team should ensure uninterrupted services and a seamless transition. In addition, GOGLA has joined the Lighting Global Quality Assurance partnership, representing industry’s view in setting the strategic direction for the program.

As a result of this change in program operations, we are happy to share with you a significant operational improvement to the QA program:

Currently, companies submitting their products for quality verification must sign two agreements: a testing agreement and a separate engagement letter, which must be submitted in hard copy to IFC. IFC invoices and collects the program fee from companies. Effective immediately, companies will sign a single agreement—with CLASP—which can be transacted electronically. Going forward, CLASP (instead of IFC) will invoice and collect the program fee from companies. Companies will still be required to comply with all Lighting Global rules and policies. We hope this new simplified process will reduce the administrative burden on companies participating in the program.

We realize that companies are often under time pressure when they submit a product for testing. In an effort to make the submission process as smooth as possible, we are making the new test agreement template available now at this link, so you can review it in advance of submitting a product for testing. (Companies with products already under test or close to signing an agreement may proceed under the existing framework.)

Note that CLASP’s new role in administering the Quality Assurance Program will not affect the way IFC’s Lighting Global Associate Services are offered and delivered to companies. As in the past, when a company has a product that has met the Lighting Global Quality Standards, the company is eligible to apply to become a Lighting Global Associate. Companies become Associates once they have passed IFC’s due diligence (this involves investor and management team background checks and a review of the corporate strategy). Associates will continue to benefit from a wide range of business and market development services offered by IFC Lighting Global and its regional affiliate programs, Lighting Africa and Lighting Asia.

We are also pleased to announce that we are expanding the network of approved test labs to include Intertek Hong Kong and the Tanzania Bureau of Standards. With these additions, there will be a total of seven laboratories with the capacity to test off-grid solar products to IEC TS 62257-9-5, including four labs that can conduct Quality Test Method (QTM) and Renewal tests. Information about the labs in our network is available on the Lighting Global website. We expect further expansion in 2018. Expanding the test lab network is part of our commitment to continuous improvement to better serve the market.

Please stay tuned for news of additional improvements in the coming months. Please also let us know if you have any insights or concerns or need any clarifications regarding the new operational partnership with CLASP.