ISO and IEC appear to provide a good coverage of standards, either developed or under development, for products covering most current renewable energy technologies.
These standards are developed in technical working groups whose composition depends on those wishing to engage in the standards development process. Their composition is therefore subject to many variables, including what standard is being developed, how important the subject is as seen by the various stakeholder groups, and the benefits or impacts of the standard as perceived by those who may need to use them.
However, according to the gap analysis in this report, some renewable energy technologies and product or process aspects are better served than others. There are gaps in the standards coverage, for example, in relation to the scale of technology in the market, or specific aspects of the technologies within the sector.
What is more noticeable is the low level of standards aimed at the installation of renewable energy systems. This has a high potential to allow poor design and installation of the technology in question.
The lack of installation standards for some technologies is understandable as the technology is still developing and installation is part of the development process. However, where more established technologies are concerned, there are opportunities to provide support through consolidated high-level best practice examples.
While regional and international standards may take longer to develop and implement than national standards, it is important to understand the context in which the regional and international standards are developed. By providing harmonised standards, issues such as avoiding trade barriers, environmental issues, and best practice can be addressed in a consistent and holistic manner.
Therefore, while short-term gains can be made through the development of national standards, there should be encouragement wherever possible for standards to be adopted or developed at the regional and international level. This also has the advantages of supporting transboundary trading (even between areas with different local environments) and reducing the proliferation of multiple similar, but actually different, standards which can lead to difficulties in trading and compliance.