The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued a new National Lab Policy (NLP) to improve the quality and reliability of renewable energy projects in India. The policy, released last Thursday, aims to create a robust and efficient system of testing, standardization, and certification for the renewable energy sector.
According to MNRE, India’s goal of reaching 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022 has made it necessary to develop and update the standards for various renewable energy systems and their related components and set up performance testing and certification facilities to ensure their quality.
MNRE has already created several autonomous institutions like the National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE), the National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE), the Alternate Hydro Power Energy Centre (AHEC), the Sardar Swaran Singh National Institute of Bio-energy (SSS-NIBE), and other test centers for solar, thermal, and biogas. But, considering the current target of 175 GW, these institutions will not be enough to ensure the quality of products utilized, thus creating the need for a policy to develop labs across the country in a planned manner.
The policy aims to adopt standards for renewable energy systems and to strengthen test labs in line with international practices and standards.
Key Highlights of the Policy
- Performance certification will be made a mandatory prerequisite for ensuring quality and reliability.
- Imported systems and components will also be tested for efficiency and performance in accordance with Indian climate conditions, even though they have may have already received international certification prior to being exported to India.
- MNRE institutions will have their research and development (R&D), testing, standardization, and certification abilities strengthened in order to make them global centers of excellence in new and renewable energy.
- All test labs must be accredited by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) and approved by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS).
- Qualifying products must be registered with BIS for deployment.
- A standards test and quality control committee (STQCC) for the renewable energy sector will be set up in MNRE.
- Test labs will create professional competency development programs to ensure that they have a skilled and competent workforce.
- Samples must be collected at three stages of the life cycle of component or product, namely; the prototype design stage, the factory production stage, and the supply stage at the project site.
- A network of test labs will be established in each segment to exchange experience and information.
- Implementation of the policy will be coordinated by STQCC and the quality control regulatory committee.
- The labs will be financially supported in partnership with the government or they will be set up on a self-sustaining basis. The mechanisms can include public-private partnerships and mobilizing CSR funds.
In November, the MNRE declared that its “Solar Photovoltaics/Systems/Devices/Components Goods (Requirements for Compulsory Registration) Order, 2017” is scheduled to become effective on January 1, 2018. This was the first step toward ensuring the quality of renewable energy projects, especially, solar and wind.
“While quality control is important, government should ensure that this does not become another bureaucratic hurdle and an added cost to project developers,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group.
Two German companies have recently committed to invest in India. Mercom reported in October that TUV Rheinland India was expanding its Indian footprint with the opening of a €2.5 million (~₹192.6 million) facility in Bangalore to test solar PV and other technologies and last month the Photovoltaik-Institut Berlin (PI Berlin) created an Indian subsidiary in New Delhi that will enable it to provide services to the Indian market from a local base of operations.
Image Credit: TUV Rheinland
Saumy is a senior staff reporter with MercomIndia.com covering business and energy news since 2016. Prior to Mercom, Saumy was a copy editor at Thomson Reuters. Saumy earned his Bachelors Degree in Journalism & Mass Communication from the Manipal Institute of Communication at Manipal University. More articles from Saumy Prateek.