27 October 2016
The National Physical Laboratory report on a new scheme to provide recognized verification for innovative, low-carbon tech developments.
By October 2016, enough nations had signed the Paris Agreement to keep global temperature rise “well below” 2°C that the Agreement will officially enter into force by the end of the year. Innovative low-carbon technologies have much to contribute when it comes to meeting this target and with the launch of a number of innovation initiatives – such as Mission Innovation and the Breakthrough Energy Coalition – it does feel like the ‘innovation engine’ is gearing up. Standards are a fundamental cog in this engine. They help us uphold and improve industry best practices as well as giving the end-user that much needed independent reassurance for their investments. These standards can be used as tools to improve competitiveness and display excellence in a crowded marketplace.
However, standards that allow for technology performance validation can also end up creating barriers to progress, rather than facilitating the innovation needed to help tackle climate change.
Often, ‘traditional’ standards are based on a consensus and consistency within the market, which means that after the time it takes to develop these standards, they have already fallen ‘behind-the-curve’ of the latest innovations. SME’s face a particular challenge as they find it more difficult to secure confidence or market recognition, as new products that challenge the existing market tend to lose out.
This is significant problem, as many low-carbon technologies that have the potential to deliver innovative solutions and improvements are being put at a commercial disadvantage because of their ingenuity. Traditional standards are often not appropriate for higher levels of innovation. One way of tackling this problem is through the ‘Environmental Technology Verification’ (ETV) scheme established by the European Commission. ETV was created to help SME’s gain trusted, third-party validation for the claims of their technology and as a result, provide assurance and credibility to potential investors and end-users. This verification acts as a ‘bridge’ to traditional standards, enabling trustworthy recognition within the European and international marketplace.
A number of independent bodies throughout Europe who have the necessary accreditation were brought into the scheme to assist with the verification process. In the UK, the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is one such verification body, providing validation for technologies with an energy related claim and supporting SME’s in a competitive market environment.
One product that was verified by NPL was an energy efficient lighting product – ALIS (AgriLamp Induction System) – created by Greengage Lighting Ltd, branded as AgriLamp. This product was designed for use in poultry farming to provide consistent lighting conditions in a spectral band that does not have a negative impact on the birds. NPL verified that ALIS gives a high luminosity from a low power consumption and is a prime example of a technology that was not represented through traditional standards. However, through the ETV scheme, Greengage Lighting was able to validate the product performance and show its intended use of helping farmers to reduce their environmental impact and improve productivity.
This type of verification is not just confined to Europe; similar ETV schemes were implemented in countries including the United States, China, Japan, Korea, Canada and the Philippines. Ongoing international dialogue regarding environmental technology verification schemes have further led to the development of ISO/DIS 14034 ‘Environmental management – Environmental technology verification (ETV)’, which is expected to be published in the near future. The international drive for an appropriate verification method for innovative solutions means that these technologies are able to compete in the global market and can do their part in tackling climate change.
Article provided by Matt Whitney and Emma Richardson from the National Physical Laboratory