Quality Assurance Update: Protecting Consumers Through Standards

Despite many recent successes in advancing national markets for quality-assured off-grid solar products, low-quality products continue to flood markets around the world. In response, many more governments are turning to mandatory quality standards to help keep poor-quality products out of their markets. Lighting Global’s efforts to support national standards development and enforcement are thus more important—and in greater demand—than ever before.

The Lighting Global Quality Assurance team is pursuing a number of activities this year in pursuit of greater harmonization and more effective implementation of quality standards.

First, we recently published a Technical Note, “Benefits of Harmonizing Test Methods and Quality Standards,” that provides an in-depth analysis of the benefits of aligned standards. For example, when standards are harmonized, overall testing costs are reduced, as manufacturers only have to test a product once before selling it in multiple markets. A portion of these savings are then passed on to consumers, who receive greater energy service at less cost. We have also published French translations of the Lighting Global Quality Standards for pico-PV products and solar home system kits to make the standards more accessible in francophone countries. These are in addition to the Chinese translations, available here and here.

Next, we proposed earlier this year to submit the Lighting Global Quality Standards for pico-solar products to the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) for publication as an international standard. We would like to thank everyone who shared comments on our proposal. A summary of the written feedback can be downloaded from this page. Through this process we identified strong support for submission to IEC, though further deliberation is needed on the exact content and timing of the submission. We are closely engaged with national bureaus of standards and the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) and its members on this matter and expect to have resolution in early 2018.

Lastly, we are continuing to build capacity to support governments in the development of effective national standards programs. In early December we held a workshop in Tanzania to train our team and our development partners on best practices in monitoring, verification, and enforcement. In this effort, we are leveraging CLASP’s many years of experience as well as a recent publication from GOGLA, Providing Energy Access through Off-Grid Solar: Guidance for Governments, which explains how governments can promote quality and protect consumers.

Please join us for the Global Off-Grid Solar Forum and Expo, January 22-24 in Hong Kong, where we will host a roundtable discussion on January 23 and present in a workshop for government officials on January 24. We welcome your questions and comments on these and other topics related to quality assurance for off-grid solar products.

Thank you for your continued support of the Lighting Global Quality Assurance Program. As always, please contact us if you have any questions or comments. We welcome your feedback!

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