In 2016, the Solar Heating Initiative (SHI), which Marisol Oropeza from matters.mx and Stefan Abrecht from Solar Experience lead, introduced the voluntary collector label SOLERGY for the European market in cooperation with the German certification body DIN CERTCO. Since then, 25 companies from countries such as Germany, Greece, Portugal, Great Britain, France and China have applied for the label. A new partnership with the Global Solar Certification Network (GSCN) will take the SOLERGY label scheme to the next level to implement it in other regions such as North America, Asia and Oceania.
The SOLERGY label aims to improve the positioning of solar thermal collectors as generators of CO2-free heat, increase transparency about their efficiency, and help consumers make better purchase decisions for an environmentally friendly and sustainable, cost-effective heating supply. “We have supported the SOLERGY label from the very beginning because we believe it is an excellent way to increase the value of collector certification schemes, such as the Solar KEYMARK. Besides, it helps the solar thermal industry to increase trust in the technology and consumers to have access to more transparent information for a greener heat supply,” says Sören Scholz from DIN CERTCO.
During the GSCN annual meeting on April 15, 2021, its members agreed on an alliance with SHI to implement the SOLERGY label globally. The GSCN aims at removing hurdles for cross-border trading of solar thermal products by harmonizing testing, inspection and certification procedures. Among its members, there are certification bodies, tests labs, manufacturers and other stakeholders from different continents. By joining forces with the SHI, it will be possible to have a more accelerated adoption of the collector label in other regions. The overall goal of the alliance is to provide the solar thermal industry with reliable certification schemes and consistent and ready-to-use marketing resources that contribute to raising awareness and increasing sales opportunities for high-quality solar thermal collectors. “We have recognized the potential of the SOLERGY label not only as a key measure to increase the value of existing certification schemes but also as a strong basis for markets where no official certification schemes are available. We are delighted to offer this new service to our members,” says Harald Drück in his role as GSCN chairman.
Stefan Abrecht, responsible for Technical Advice and Lobby of the SHI, developed the methodology behind the SOLERGY label. In Europe, the the Solar KEYMARK collector certification scheme is the basis for the SOLERGY label. As part of the cooperation between the GSCN and the SHI, the scheme will be expanded to North America, Asia and Oceania. The goal is to have a standardized methodology and layout adapted to the regional climatic conditions and reference locations. An official collector certification scheme acknowledged by the GSCN is a prerequisite for implementing the collector label SOLERGY in a region. Currently, companies with a valid Solar KEYMARK certificate can apply for the SOLERGY label for the European market at DIN CERTCO in Germany. In the future, other certification bodies who are members of the GSCN could issue the SOLERGY label for their regions, such as the SRCC for North America. The GSCN, in coordination with the SHI and DIN CERTCO, will coordinate the introduction of the SOLERGY label in other regions and authorize certification bodies to issue it. “The fact that the collector label is based on a local collector certification scheme helps us to integrate it in our service portfolio. Besides, we look forward to extending the SOLERGY label to other will be enlarged with labels for applications such as swimming pools (25 °C) and lower temperature heating (<50 °C), which have a large market share in the United States and other regions” says Shawn Martin from the SRCC.
The launch of the SOLERGY label included an integrated marketing campaign, including the development of a website with general information about solar heat, infographics, videos and brochures. Since then, the Initiative has been active in social media channels and participated in several industry events to promote the label internationally. As part of the alliance with the GSCN, SHI will be responsible for the global marketing strategy of the SOLERGY label. “The SOLERGY label and the accompanying communication campaigns show that solar thermal technologies are powerful and ecologically worthwhile. The alliance with the GSCN gives us the chance to have a stronger voice as industry internationally with a common image,” says Marisol Oropeza, responsible for Marketing and PR at the SHI.
Energy efficiency labels give information to consumers about the amount of energy that devices such as refrigerators, washing machines, light bulbs, boilers and heat pumps use. In Europe, the ErP label (energy-related products) has a scale that ranges from red G for the devices with the lowest efficiency to green A for those with the highest. In this regulation, solar thermal collectors are not considered heat generators because they consume practically no primary energy. Instead, they are considered energy efficiency devices that upgrade conventional heat generators and have no individual efficiency label. This prevents consumers from recognizing that solar thermal collectors can cover high percentages of consumers’ and companies’ energy needs for hot water and heating without burning fossil fuels.
The collector label SOLERGY addresses this issue and rates solar collectors according to how much solar heat is generated per collector area according to different temperature levels and climate zones. Considering that the available space should be used in the best possible way, collectors with high specific yields have a better rating in the SOLERGY label. The rating of the SOLERGY label goes from A- to AAA since they supply cleaner energy for heating than other heat generators included in energy efficiency schemes such as the ErP.
The SOLERGY label fosters product innovation and creates trust in the technology.
The collector label encourages manufacturers to keep improving their products and to strengthen their competitiveness. Besides, it creates consumer confidence because an independent, neutral and competent certification body has carefully examined and assessed the product based on the test criteria required by an already established collector certification scheme. In addition, third-party monitoring, also during the ongoing production process, ensures that the quality of the product is maintained. In this way, the customer receives an added value, which he can consider when deciding on his purchase.
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