Standards are an important aspect of ensuring that products and services are delivered in a harmonised and consistent way, while providing consumers and users with the confidence that whatever products and services they are using deliver to specification. Many of the standards identified provide this support by ensuring that, for example:
The characteristics of a particular component are measured, calculated or evaluated in a consistent way – typically these may be the determination of chemical and physical properties.
The ability exists to demonstrate the performance of the product, such as a solar photovoltaic panel or a wind turbine, against an established measurement protocol or criteria.
Sampling and sample reduction is carried out in the same repeatable manner, e.g. the sampling of solid biofuels, which have historically had wide variance in quality, even though the products were manufactured to apparently specific tolerances.
However, other standards are used to allow the facilitation of trade, or compliance with regulations and legislation, by ensuring that declarations or certificates provided for a product or service are communicated and accepted as being to a consistent and harmonised quality or specification.
Over the last two years the Solar America Board for Codes and Standards (Solar ABC) has been calling for stronger integration of reliability standards and qualifications for PV modules into legislation based on the IEC standards. This call is aimed at ensuring that quality PV products are installed in the USA with a minimum defined standard.
In addition to the above, there are standards that provide a consistent and harmonised approach to management systems, environmental management, energy management, conformity assessment and certification.
While third-party independent certification or conformity assessment cannot be required within product and service standards, many standards are used to demonstrate compliance within certification schemes.
As stated in the introduction to this report, this approach to regulation and legislation is being increasingly used by governments looking for consistency when delivering against policies and in particular when these policies are supporting fiscal incentives, such as Feed-in Tariffs, Renewable Obligations Certificates, Green Certificates, Renewable Portfolio Standards, etc.