The implementation of SHAMCI, the Solar Heating Arab Mark and Certification Initiative, could help expand the solar thermal market in both Egypt and Jordan. On 15 and 16 May 2017, a workshop held at the headquarters of RCREEE (Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency) and on the premises of NREA (New and Renewable Energy Authority of Egypt) in Cairo offered experts, market observers and stakeholders from both countries a platform to discuss requirements for implementing SHAMCI at national level. Solarthermalworld.org spoke to Lotus Shaheen, who works at SHAMCI’s secretariat, about the results of the workshop and the next steps by the regional initiative.
Solarthermalworld.org: What are the objectives of SHAMCI and has there been a timetable for its implementation?
Shaheen: The Solar Heating Arab Mark and Certification Initiative is a quality certification scheme for solar thermal products and services across the Arab region. Although SHAMCI was based on Europe’s Solar Keymark, it has been adapted to meet the requirements of developing countries. It is the first certification scheme for solar thermal products in the Arab region.
SHAMCI’s main objective is to provide policymakers, manufacturing businesses and consumers with a regional industry and regulatory compliance framework. In other words, SHAMCI helps decision makers to devise better policies, assists manufacturers in accumulating know-how and improving product quality and offers consumers unbiased quality assessments.
Solarthermalworld.org: How does SHAMCI receive funding?
Shaheen: SHAMCI is one of the projects initiated by RCREEE and used to be funded by it too. The RCREEE budget had previously been provided by the governments of Denmark, Germany and Egypt. But in 2015, RCREEE began to rely on self-funding and governmental support for it was gradually reduced. At present, funds are very limited, but the secretariat is doing its best to secure some financial support and partnerships through programmes of common interest to particularly small-scale activities, such as the REEE II, the EU-financed Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Programme in Jordan, and the PTB’s Strengthening quality infrastructure for solar thermal energy in the Maghreb, a project paid for by the German government. More of these efforts to secure funding will prove to be good for implementation at national level and boost solar water heater (SWH) markets across the Arab region.
Solarthermalworld.org: Which results can be expected from SHAMCI? Will it foster the development of solar thermal?
Shaheen: Despite the region’s great potential for solar thermal development, the markets have been developing at a very slow pace, to say the least. Reasons vary; it may be technical aspects and a not well-adapted or insufficient policy framework. A study conducted by a Swedish university [see the attached document] has found that poor quality and reliability have had an impact on the reputation of SWH suppliers in Egypt. Another example is Jordan, where the national action plan targets an SWH market share of 25 % by 2020, although the country has no countrywide certification scheme in place. The adoption of SHAMCI by the Jordanian authorities will help enforce existing policies on energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Moreover, the Global Solar Certification Network has recognised SHAMCI as the quality mark of the Middle East and North Africa. SHAMCI-labelled products will ensure top quality, safety, reliability, durability and high performance in the growing target markets, which will help authorities improve customer confidence, facilitate regional collaborations, eliminate trade barriers and promote compliance with industrial quality standards and monitoring. SHAMCI will also benefit manufacturers, as it standardises product testing, guaranteeing high-quality products without upping costs.
Solarthermalworld.org: The recent workshop gave everyone an opportunity to discuss project implementation in Egypt and Jordan: What do you think will be its impact on the two countries?
Shaheen: First, we intend to set up efficient channels of communication between the relevant quality infrastructure organisations – certification and inspection bodies and test labs – in Egypt and Jordan as well as between the relevant national stakeholders and the SHAMCI network secretariat. It will be equally important, however, to channel these efforts and encourage collaborations, in order to grant the first SHAMCI mark no later than the end of 2017. This is not only crucial to maintaining a clear timetable, but it also helps create a momentum for the project to overcome market barriers in Egypt, Jordan or any other country interested in SHAMCI. Additionally, we talked about possible ways for marketing SHAMCI and about involving the private sector.
Solarthermalworld.org: Will other countries besides Egypt and Jordan benefit from SHAMCI’s efforts to expand the solar thermal market?
Shaheen: As SHAMCI’s objective is to guarantee and harmonise the quality assurance of solar thermal products across the Arab region, it is open to all interested countries. However, the successful implementation of SHAMCI depends on the QA infrastructure of a country. We started with Egypt and Jordan, but we are organising another regional workshop for Lebanon and Tunisia on 19 and 20 July to discuss implementation in these two. We expect Algeria and Morocco to be the next to follow.
Solarthermalworld.org: Do you believe that after successful implementation of SHAMCI, there will still be some barriers limiting the development of solar thermal in the region? If you do, what are they?
Shaheen: By design, SHAMCI is thought to be an ongoing project similar to the Solar Keymark scheme. But unlike its European counterpart, which is funded by the industry, SHAMCI is a government-supported programme. In other words, SHAMCI’s implementation depends on the national framework and resources of a given country rather than on market-driven policies. At least in the initial stages of the project, the biggest challenge could be to couple the solar thermal policies in a country with private-sector initiatives, considering the different boundary conditions of each individual case. However, I believe that once the policy-market balance has been established, many barriers will have already been torn down.
Websites zu organisations mentioned in this article:
Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency: www.rcreee.org
Global Solar Certification Network: http://www.gscn.solar/
This interview was conducted by Riccardo Battisti, a solar thermal consultant and market researcher working at Ambiente Italia in Rome, Italy.