Quality in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (R3E) Project
Since the energy crisis of the last decade, energy costs, usage, and efficiency have become watch words in the Caribbean Region. Several projects have been undertaken examining this thing called energy and how to use it more effectively, and moreover, how to utilise the renewables in the energy sector that have not been previously tapped into and exploited to their fullest.
The Quality in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (R3E) Project is now looking at “Expanding the available quality infrastructure services in the Caribbean for the use of energy-efficient electrical devices and renewable energies”. In short, how do we infuse quality procedures and processes into the energy sector to ensure the Caribbean sources and utilises these resources effectively, thereby contributing to a reduction of greenhouse gases and the prevention of climate change?
The Basics of the R3E Project
R3E, which focussed on Renewable Energy (RE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) in the Caribbean from a quality standpoint, was primarily based on the premise that the introduction of standards, testing and other quality-related services into the RE and EE subsectors, could result in significant changes to the way energy efficiency is viewed and the focus paid by policy makers, retailers, general public and other vital stakeholders in these areas.
According to studies, the use of energy-efficient equipment and renewable energy technologies have long needed quality interventions like “standards, testing, inspection, certification and labelling”. In fact, they’ve concluded that the lack of information on equipment and devices pose issues for consumer protection.
It is a core issue the R3E Project sought to address. It was funded to the tune of 1 million Euros by the Federal Republic of Germany, with implementation by the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ) and the Dominican Republic’s Institute for Quality (INDOCAL).
The Project Components
The R3E Project on Renewable Energy
One of the easiest-to-harness renewable energy resources in the Caribbean is solar power – be it as solar-thermal for water heating or photovoltaic for electricity generation. Over a number of years there have been concerted efforts by Caribbean Governments, as well as through various donor-funded projects, to push the use of solar power as a legitimate alternative or at least, complementary source to fossil fuel-based energy sources.
The Project’s RE component acknowledged that more and more countries are using solar water heaters (solar collectors) on roofs to provide hot water, as well as photo voltaic panels to turn sunlight into electricity. However, Caribbean markets lack the necessary standards that would govern aspects such as technical installation, working safety, yield, operation and maintenance.
The project therefore began exploring the possibility of establishing standards for this segment of the market, and eventually a labelling scheme, in response to demand from producers of solar systems to reduce the numbers of quality-inefficient devices available to consumers. This would include solar water heaters as well as photo voltaic-based systems in general.
In addition to the improvement or development of standards, the project also attempted to provide the kind of support services needed to ensure that these systems met the guidelines established in the standard by local manufacturers, importers and retailers. In so doing, the required testing and measurement infrastructure within the Region would be strengthened, to better serve the increasing demand for solar power components on the Caribbean market.
The project would operate through the National Standards Body (NSB) and or Conformity Assessment Bodies (CAB) in participating Member States in an attempt to increase the present capacity and bring them up to the mark.
The R3E Project On Energy Efficiency
It has been recognised that while renewable energy is a hot important topic for Governments, as well as for electric utilities, the efficient use of energy for the operation of equipment and appliances, in the domestic, public, commercial and industrial sectors, is also an increasingly important consideration. With an intention to stabilize or even reduce the electricity bills in the above mentioned sectors and save households and businesses money, the R3E Project’s aim was to support the development of regional energy performance standards for refrigerators, air conditioners and lighting, as well as to establish an energy efficiency labelling standard for same. A labelling scheme based on those standards was the ultimate outcome.
For many average Caribbean households, refrigerators, freezers, fans and light bulbs are the main appliances that determine the electricity consumption and ultimately, the monthly electricity bill. In the public, commercial and industrial sectors, additional to the above mentioned appliances, AC units and electric hot water systems (the latter often still used in hotels and hospitals) are next on the list for high electricity consumption.
Reducing electricity bills in all these sectors will not only benefit Caribbean households, but also Government budgets for public buildings like offices, schools, hospitals, as well as the tourism and manufacturing industries. Ultimately, efficient use of energy will serve the environment and help reduce the carbon foot print of Caribbean countries.
The three appliances that were the focus of this project are present in most households and/or businesses in the region, and are also high consumers of energy because of their widespread use. The focus was on providing savings for consumers through energy efficient choices, which could also have less negative environmental impacts.
As standards were developed, the R3E Project also embark on creating energy labels, with plans for an education campaign targeting the public and informing them of how to read these labels to ensure they not only comply with the developed standards, but also that at the retail end, importers and stores were also aware.
Because of the development of the labelling standards and subsequent labels, it was therefore necessary to create the kind of supportive environment in the Caribbean Region that can adequately measure and test that these appliances are in fact capable of providing the kind of energy reliance and efficiency suggested. Therefore, the capacity of select National Standards Bodies and/or Conformity Assessment Bodies, the upgrading of their resources and capabilities, were also targeted. Two regional labs were identified as potential Centres of Excellence in this drive.
The aims of this project were three-fold:
- Support of regional standardisation activities for this sector, and use of these activities for the creation of binding directives and technical regulations.
- Establishment of technical expertise for testing and measurement services in individual countries.
- Awareness-raising, informational and public relations activities, as well as dialogue with persons in decision-making and other key positions.
Support of regional Standardisation Activities
The standards development component of the R3E Project undertook the following activities:
- Development of regional energy performance standards for EE appliances – namely refrigerators, air conditioners and lighting.
- Development of an energy efficiency labelling scheme for the stated appliances.
- Exploration for the development of standards for RE appliances – namely solar water heaters.
- Exploration for the development of standards for photovoltaic systems.
- Identification of countries for the piloting of the labelling scheme.
Establishment of technical expertise for testing and measurement
The testing and measurement capabilities of NSBs, which depended largely on the strengthening of the quality systems, involved:
- Development of testing and inspection, and measurement-related capabilities to support EE systems – refrigerators, lights and air conditioners.
- Establishment of Centres of Excellence in testing, inspection and measurement in select countries.
- Development of testing and inspection, and measurement-related capabilities to support RE systems.
Awareness-raising, informational and public relations
As with any project, the awareness, sensitisation and education of all involved stakeholders was key. In the R3E Project, this component involved a number of activities targeting select stakeholders in the first phase. These ranged from:
- Stakeholder engagements for government officials, regulators, importers, retailers and distributors of related appliances;
- Advertising and PR activities for the general sensitisation of the public as well as the developed standards;
- Development of an awareness campaign for the Regional Labelling Scheme;
Collection of best practices in the development of the EE initiatives for case studies and research publications.
Why should this matter to you?
The R3E Project matters to policy makers; regulators; National Standards Bodies; providers, manufactures and importers of RE systems and services, and EE appliances such as refrigerators, AC units and LEDs; retailers; national and regional energy-related bodies and associations; consumers (i.e. the general public) and media partners.
Policymakers, regulators and national standards bodies were crucial to the implementation of standards in national jurisdictions. They provided the direction for how these standards should further be applied; how the labelling scheme would function, as well as the upgrading of facilities for the measuring and testing of the related appliances and systems.
Providers, manufacturers and importers as well were key contributors to determining the steps needed to improve quality in the energy sector. As the development of standards is demand-driven, this process was in fact kick-started by this subsector and their need for guidelines to level the playing field. Their concerns about the ability of all producers to be able to adhere to the same rules across the board saw this group being involved in the development process, and will remain a key asset moving forward toward implementation of the labelling scheme.
In addition to being involved in the stakeholder discussions process leading to the development of the standards, retailers were also a central target for the development and introduction of the labelling scheme. Moving forward, the retailers will need to be educated about the labels and some amount of training will be necessary for retail staff to assist with the education of customers as to the implications of purchasing energy efficient appliances. The labels developed through the R3E Project, are vital for inclusion in retail outlets as they seek to supply the market with products that meet standards, and adhere to the requirements of the labels to be affixed to each and every product.
Any process such as this requires involvement of civil society organisations that agitate in the interest of consumers – that is the associations, bodies and groups that look out for fairness in the marketplace. Such groups were important to represent the consumers in discussions, and will be needed to act as guardians thereafter, working alongside those at the policy and enforcement levels and with national standards bodies to help to educate on the benefits that can be had for a country that smartly applies the standards, testing and measurement requirements.
And finally, the consumers were vital to the design of the labels for the labelling scheme and will be a focus of awareness raising on the information contained in labels as well as the benefits of choosing products and services that meet the standards. Often consumers purchase with an intention to get the best deal at the least cost. Awareness moving forward will seek to inform this section of society how they can in fact save in the long-run by demanding better of the appliances, services and systems available to them in their respective countries.
The Labelling Scheme
The Regional Energy Efficiency Labelling Scheme
Energy efficiency labels were developed for refrigerators, air conditioners and light emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) during the project, based on the regional standards developed by CROSQ. Those labels will be introduced on the Regional Energy Efficiency Labelling Scheme is piloted in Belize, Saint Lucia, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
More information on the labels and the labelling scheme will be available online at – www.energy.crosq.org.
The Member States
The National Standards Bodies of the15 Member States of CARICOM, namely Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago; as well as the Dominican Republic were a part of the project.
Funding for the R3E Project was donated by the German Government and its Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, through managers of the Project, the German National Metrology Institute (PTB). The CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) and the Dominican Institute for Quality (INDOCAL) served as implementers.
The Physikalisch Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) or the German National Metrology Institute is a scientific and technical federal authority falling under the ambit of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. PTB measures with the highest accuracy and reliability – metrology (science of measurement) as the core competence. It stands for progress and reliability in metrology for the benefit of society, trade and industry, and science. The German institution has a long-standing experience in development cooperation with partners in the Caribbean and throughout the World.
The CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) is the network of the 15 National Standards Bodies of the Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). It is operationally based on three levels: the CROSQ Council of Directors; the CROSQ Secretariat, headquartered in Barbados, and the Special Committees, which report to Council and carry out the mandate of the organisation, based on technical assistance, the allocation of financial resources, and mutual cooperation.
The Instituto Dominicano para la Calidad (INDOCAL) or the Dominican Institute for Quality, is the national authority responsible for standardization and Legal, Industrial and Scientific Metrology in the Dominican Republic. Headquartered in Santo Domingo, INDOCAL is responsible for the organisation of development activities; the adoption, harmonization, approval, formalization, publication and dissemination of technical standards, with a view to facilitating trade and industrial development and serving as a basis for technical regulations.