Energizing the planet

Who would have imagined that the world would grind to a halt in 2020? COVID 19 global pandemic lockdown measures have restricted personal movement and greatly disrupted travel, commerce and production activities worldwide.

Throughout this period, the energy sector has enabled vital healthcare services and millions of people to work and study from home. The planet may be breathing easier thanks to almost half a year of lower carbon emissions, however the World Energy Outlook Special Report by the International Energy Agency, (IEA) notes that global energy demand is estimated to fall by around 6% in 2020 relative to the previous year, and around 8% of the 40 million jobs directly provided by the energy sector are at risk or have already been lost.

As governments focus on rebuilding their economies with financial recovery packages, the energy sector will need investment in more secure, resilient, clean and cost-effective energy systems, which will foster jobs and growth, as the world continues to move away from fossil fuels.

Equally, governments will also need to adopt more policies that encourage the development of renewable energies, to meet global demands and make sure that devices and systems that use electricity do so as efficiently as possible, whether a smart phone, car, building or city.

Issue 4 of e-tech magazine looks at how IEC International Standards help authorities and stakeholders in the energy sector ensure that the products and systems used to produce, store and distribute energy from diverse sources are clean, efficient and reliable.

For example, IEC has worked with Lighting Global to produce quality standards for the off-grid, pico-photovoltaic market. This growing market enables access to energy through small, portable devices such as lanterns and flashlights. It also covers solar home systems which can be used for home lighting systems and certain appliances. The widespread implementation of these standards by national governments, development agencies, and the private sector will contribute towards a harmonized approach to quality assurance, safety, and consumer protection.

The efficient use of energy has long been considered an unexploited energy resource. Standards play an important role in energy efficiency because they provide definitions and measurements of performance, help promote energy efficiency technologies and set minimum energy performance requirements. We hear from the Chair of the IEC Advisory Committee on Energy Efficiency (ACEE), established to coordinate standardization activities related to energy efficiency, about the barriers to overcome and how the ACEE is helping IEC technical committees to take a more holistic, systems approach to their standardization work.

Oceans offer a great source of energy for producing electricity. An expert with the Australian Ocean Energy Group explains why Standards Australia has become a member of IEC Technical Committee 114, which develops international standards for marine energy, and the unique perspective that Australia has to offer in this domain.

We also catch up with the new Chair of IEC TC 4: Hydraulic turbines, who discusses the challenges faced by hydropower with the advent of COVID 19, the automation of facilities and the cyber risks that come with digitalization, the impact of climate change, as well as the latest standards under development.

Finally, we learn about the importance of the certification of renewable energy equipment, to ensure products, systems and devices are safe, efficient and reliable. Two new tests, based on IEC Standards, have been developed for wind turbines for the level of noise the turbines emit, and the analysis of the quality of the flow of electricity they produce. These are offered by IECRE, the IEC System for Certification to Standards Relating to Equipment for Use in Renewable Energy Applications.