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EMEC achieves ocean energy RETL designation

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The European Marine Energy Center (EMEC) has been designated with Renewable Energy Testing Laboratory (RETL) status, the highest international designation for marine energy test laboratories.

EMEC is the first RETL for ocean energy in the world.

RETL is awarded by the International Electrotechnical Commission-Renewable Energy System (IECRE), which operates a global certification program covering three renewable energy sectors: solar photovoltaic (PV), wind and marine.

A requirement for certification as a RETL in the marine energy sector is currently to be accredited as a test laboratory; EMEC has been certified to ISO / IEC 17025 by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) since 2005 and to ISO / IEC 17020 as an inspection body since 2014.

Up to now, EMEC has been able to carry out certified performance assessments in the UK; the RETL certification enables EMEC to carry out testing to determine the power efficiency of tidal energy converters anywhere in the world in compliance with IEC TC 114 Technical Specifications (precursors to international standards).

The RETL designation currently only covers the power output evaluation of tidal energy converters (IEC / TS 62600-200), but the IECRE program is in the process of extending such a designation to include wave energy converters as well as other areas of competence.

“Given the complexity and size of the challenges in developing ocean energy technologies – consenting, commissioning, installation, operations, maintenance – it is extremely difficult for investors, funders and insurers to adequately conduct comprehensive technical due diligence. Thus, the IECRE offers a comprehensive and transparent third-party renewable energy conformity assessment system that ensures that project installations adhere to accepted international standards.

“For EMEC, gaining RETL designation is a major achievement, providing independent assurance that ISO/IEC 17025 and IECRE criteria have been met for integrity, technical competence and quality, and that the methods we use are standardised and transparent.

“RETL status opens up international markets to EMEC for testing ocean energy devices, subsystems and components on a worldwide basis. While there are 29 RETLs for wind energy globally, EMEC is the first RETL for ocean energy technologies in the world.”

Elaine Buck, EMEC’s technical manager.

The first technology to be evaluated as a RETL by EMEC would be Verdant Power, which is operating through the IECRE program to obtain the first Renewable Energy Test Report (RETR) that has international recognition.

Verdant is planning to install three Gen5 turbines later in 2020 in East River, New York City. They were helped by EMEC in planning for the power output assessment.

“EMEC has been instrumental in the development of Technical Specifications on IEC TC 114 and, as a founding member of the IECRE, participating across the IEC standards and conformity assessment activities. The IECRE aims to facilitate international trade in marine, solar PV and wind energy by verifying the safety, performance and reliability of equipment and services. The processes are created by the sector, for the sector, with EMEC contributing to various technical working groups focused on wave and tidal power performance, technology qualification, electrical power quality, certification scheme rules and finances, among others, as well as chairing PEL/114 coordinating UK input into the IEC Technical Committee 114 (Marine Energy).

“Gaining this RETL designation demonstrates EMEC’s technical competence, ensuring that procedures, data analyses and reporting are aligned to international best practice, processes are in place ensure impartiality and test reports that will be globally accepted, enhancing access to markets and financing for tidal energy developers.”

Jonathan Colby, ME-SWG convenor and IEC TC 114 chair.

“For the IECRE the approval of the first marine energy RETL marks a major milestone. As a Conformity Assessment System we can be operational only if we do have approved and registered Conformity Assessment Bodies, such as RE-Testing Laboratories and RE Certification Bodies operating in the system. While the IECRE marine sector has worked tirelessly to set up the system and define the detailed rules and processes for several years, only after this milestone are we ready to be operational. With the approval of EMEC as our first marine energy RETL, we are confident we will soon see conformity assessment being conducted under the umbrella of the IECRE marine sector. With EMEC we found a strong partner to continue this development.”

Wolfram Zeitz, IECRE executive secretary.
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