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Interaction | October 2013

Certification Standards are Market Driven

The renewable manufacturing market has witnessed a complete shift in the last five years from export to local consumption. Rajni Umakanthan, Business Head-India & MEA, UL India, speaks on standardisation in India as compared to the western markets.

UL India provides certifications to the products and projects. What are the criteria on which you scale up certain products or projects?
Depending on the market, there are various criteria where the products are to be sold. For eg: if there is a manufacturer of solar panels in India, he might want to sell that product in India and would also like to export it to other regions like Europe or the North American markets. These products need to comply with set standards.

Even though we are becoming more of a one world, the standards practiced are still different.

In Europe, most of the nations follow the International Electro technical Commission (IEC) standards, whereas North America follows UL standard. In the US and Canada, it's more of UL, while in Europe and most of the part of Asia its IEC standards.

India is inclined towards IEC standards. The solar panels and inverters and charge controller batteries is mostly based on IEC standards. The BIS standard is just a replica of IEC standard.

What are the major differences in IEC and UL standards?
UL standard is primarily a safety standard. The objective is to ensure that the product is safe. Moreover, IEC also does the same thing. But in some cases, IEC also goes beyond safety criteria as they look at other tributes like performance, energy efficiency or longevity of the product. This is the basic difference.

For getting certification, do companies approach you directly or do they get instructed by the regulators?
Certification is purely a demand-driven business and someone at the top has to drive this demand. MNRE has some set of rules at place, like: If you are a manufacturer, then you have to comply with the standards. This is how the demand is driven to us. Ultimately it's driven by the regulatory authorities and we have the facilities and expertise.

If you ask me about the shift in requirements, most of the manufacturers of solar panels like Tata Power Solar are Moser Baer were looking at exports in 2007-08. At that time, India was not a big market for solar products. Almost 90 per cent of the products manufactured by them was exported to the European and the US markets. At that time, the European markets required IEC certification, while the US markets required UL certification. But today, the table has completely turned and almost 90 per cent of what they have produced is considered for the local market.

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