It is vitally important that equipment manufactured for the renewable energy sector adheres to strict International Standards. This is much easier to ensure when there is a strong and independent system in place for testing and certification.
The IECRE (IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Renewable Energy Applications) was created with these challenges in mind. The worldwide approval and certification system relies on broad stakeholder participation to make sure that the certificates meet real needs.
It is not only about ensuring that a product or service does what it says on the box, but also about confirming the required levels of safety, quality, efficiency and effectiveness.
The recent issue of the first certificate for best practices in the design, manufacturing and selection of materials for photovoltaic (PV) products was an important milestone for the IECRE. Certificates have already been issued for the wind energy sector.
The American photovoltaic (PV) manufacturer First Solar, Inc. became the first company to achieve the IEC TS 62941 certificate. IEC TS 62941 has raised the industry standards for PV module product design, development, product certification, process control, raw material control and procurement, as well as for product testing and monitoring.
The IECRE System is highly valued because it is based on third–party evaluation carried out by accredited laboratories accepted to participate in the Conformity Assessment System. They provide independent testing and certification, which also reduces costs for manufacturers and consumers by eliminating the need for duplicative evaluations and certifications in different markets.
The global safety and certification organization, Underwriters Laboratories – UL (US), issued the recent certificate. First Solar will now benefit from the harmonized certification process for the sector.
The IECRE System enables broader industry stakeholder participation in defining the third party certification process, which guarantees the certificates will meet the needs of industry. It reduces costs for manufacturers and consumers by eliminating the need for duplicative evaluations and certifications in different markets.
IECRE was created in recognition that the ever-increasing demand for electricity and the need to reduce the share of fossil fuels in power generation have led to rapid development and growth of the renewable energy sector.
The System aims to facilitate international trade in equipment and services for use in RE, while maintaining the required level of safety and performance. Currently IECRE focuses on installation, equipment and services for use in wind energy, solar PV energy and soon in marine energy sectors.
Each sector operates Schemes that cover products, services and personnel and provide testing, inspection and certification. The door remains open for consideration of other technologies, such as concentrated solar power (CSP), geothermal energy and fuel cells.