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Solergy Collector Label: EU Commission Confirms Clear Distinction from Energy Labelling

Submitted by Baerbel Epp on December 28, 2015
The implementation of voluntary collector label Solergy will enter into the second phase in 2016. The European Commission has confirmed that there was no likelihood of confusing the voluntary mark with the official energy labelling stipulated since September 2015 for heating devices across Europe, the Steering Committee of the Solar Heating Initiative said in a letter sent to selected stakeholders in the middle of December. The letter went on to explain that it would now be the responsibility of DIN Certco, the German certification body, to issue Solergy labels officially and register the certificates in an online database. During the first phase in the second half of 2015, it had been Stefan Abrecht, the initiator of the voluntary collector label and General Manager of German company Solar Experience, who had issued the certificates.
 
On 19 November 2015, two members of the Steering Committee, Stefan Abrecht and Marisol Oropeza, former Marketing Manager of German Ritter Energie- und Umwelttechnik, as well as Sören Scholz, Head of DIN Certco, attended a meeting with two EU officers, Ewout Deurwaarder and Marcos González Álvarez, both from the DG Energy in Brussels. During the meeting, the EU administrators pointed out that except for Member States and EU institutions, no other organisation can use similar bars and nomenclature for energy-related products as found on the ErP label. 
 
According to the approved minutes of the meeting, which Abrecht attached to his letter from 17 December, the EU officers also made clear that the Solergy collector label would not create any confusion: “According to current regulation and provisions, the presented voluntary collector label is clearly distinct from the official ErP label, especially because the bars go from right to left, the bars are all green and the nomenclature is different, B to AA and AAA.” Deurwaarder recommended some minor modifications, so as to ensure that Solergy will not mimic the ErP label: “In particularly, the layout with regard to the name Solerg and the corresponding ending could be seen as mimicking the ErP label. (…) One consideration could be as well to modify the name of class B, since it might suggest that solar collectors were worse than a gas boiler.” The steering committee would discuss these proposals and take the appropriate steps, Abrecht confirmed. 
 
“We would like to use the Solergy label to increase the awareness of collectors as energy-producing devices,” Abrecht explained his motivation behind creating the label in the letter. The Solar Heating Initiative has gained some additional support from collector manufacturers since the last report on solarthermalworld.org from the beginning of November: Ezinç, Turkey, Tigi, Israel, and both Akotec and STI from Germany have now thrown their weight behind the label as well. 
 
Controversial discussions within the associations
The relevant solar thermal associations in Europe still have their difficulties with the implementation of Solergy. The issue was discussed during the General Assembly of the European Solar Thermal Industry Federation (ESTIF) in Istanbul, Turkey, at the beginning of December. “We had a rather intense and interesting discussion, where several of our members presented different opinions on the matter. At the end, there was no final decision, apart from the one that the ESTIF Board shall agree on a proposal which will take into account the different opinions expressed at the meeting,” explains Pedro Dias, ESTIF’s Secretary General. This topic will be on the agenda at the next ESTIF board meeting, which will take place at the end of January 2016.
 
BSW-Solar based in Berlin, Germany, also put the collector label on the agenda of its General Assembly at the end of November. “BSW-Solar supports the introduction of an independent collector / product label on the occasion of the launch of the ERP label for heating systems. It must be the goal to anchor the stand-alone collector label in EU regulations,” was the official message from Berlin. The stakeholders expect the revised regulations for EU energy labelling not to enter into force before 2021. During the solar thermal division meeting earlier this year, industry stakeholders were convinced that a collector label was appropriate to highlight the importance of solar heat for the decarbonisation strategies of the government. On the other hand, they criticised the scale spread of the Solergy label and recommended a reduction in the number of levels. 
 
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