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RE Standards-making Bodies

Standards and scheme documents can be developed and published by anyone who has a need or requirement to establish a set of formal parameters to work within. However, for standards to be accepted in the market, they need to come from a credible body, which can demonstrate that the standards have been developed with due diligence and on a consensus basis. This is why most countries and regions have official standards bodies.

Globally there are effectively four levels of standards bodies: international, regional, national, and standards​ developing organisations. The international standards bodies relevant to renewable energy are the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). ​​

While in many respects the development processes and structures for ISO and IEC cover different technologies, many agreements and thorough on-going cooperation have meant that the two organisations operate in similar ways. The international standardisation organisations are member-driven organisations. Their members are the national standards organisations (bodies) at ISO, and national committees at IEC – one per country. 

There are 163 members in ISO divided into three categories – Member body, Correspondent member and Subscriber member (Figures as of June 2015).

The IEC family consists of 83 members and 83​ affiliate countries, which participate in IEC's free programme for developing countries (Figures as of June 2015).​

During the development of standards the Member bodies can elect whether to be participating or observing members of the standards development process. Regional and national standardisation bodies have multilateral agreements and standards development processes similar to those in the international organisations. Table 1 below shows the predominant standardisation bodies involved in the global development of standards.

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In addition to the multilateral agreements there are active programmes that support the engagement and participation of developing countries. For example, ISO has a specific 2011 – 2015 action plan for developing countries. This plan includes the encouragement of twinning and/or partnership arrangements between ISO members in developing and developed countries. Resources are also available to support participants from developing countries to attend meetings. 

Where standards are recognised as being of global relevance ISO and CEN have the option of developing the standards in partnership according to a collaborative process. This process is governed by the Vienna Agreement which lays down the principles for technical cooperation between the organisations and provides guidelines for the technical committees developing the standards. Similarly, the IEC and CENELEC have the Dresden Agreement, where the large majority of European standards in the electrotechnical area are identical adoptions of international standards​.

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