The US-based Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) is on the fast lane. Within only one and a half years SRCC has increased the number of accredited test labs from two to fourteen. Collector and system suppliers that want to enter the US-market can now address test institutes in Australia, Spain, Canada, Germany, China and Switzerland, as well as the US.
This action is decreasing the testing backlogs regarding the collector standard OG-100. “We also added technical staff, to tackle the SRCC portion of the collector testing backlog. As of June 2010 there are five engineers and administrators engaged at SRCC,” said Mark Thornbloom, interim Executive Director of SRCC since January 2010. He summarized the latest developments in his institution at the Intersolar Europe conference in June in Munich, Germany: “We expect the queue duration at test labs to decrease from the current backlog of over two years to a more reasonable queue duration of six to nine months,” SRCC does not own or operate testing facilities, but accredits test labs to perform tests to its procedures and protocols.
According to Thornbloom, SRCC have also tackled the second great backlog that of OG-300 system certification. “We tripled our OG-300 output, that means in the first four months of this year, SRCC published as many OG-300 certificates as in all the twelve months of 2009.” OG-300 is a certification of residential solar water heating systems that is based on a thorough design and manual review. SRCC then publishes a performance rating based on in-house system simulations. OG-300 certification requires an OG-100 certified collector and possibly additional testing of other components to SRCC’s test method TM-1.
After the departure of longtime SRCC Executive Director Les Nelson at the beginning of the year, Board member Thornbloom agreed to act as Interim Executive Director for a transition period to give SRCC the opportunity to search for a candidate with the necessary skills and management experience to take SRCC to the next level of performance. “The search was rewarded by the selection of Eileen Prado from a deep pool of excellent candidates”, says Thornbloom. Prado started in July and brings extensive business and management skills as well as over two decades of leadership experience as COO and CEO of a major manufacturing firm.
In Munich, the interim Executive Director also explained the issues which should be implemented next: “We will review the fee structure, overhaul the application process and search for the help of even more temporary reviewers.“ And most important: SRCC wants to focus on its core business of issuing certifications in the future. “In the past, we have spent a lot of time on analyzing and advising companies regarding their product designs which takes away from the certification process and is not fair to those waiting in the queue,” explains Thornbloom. “Nor more free design assistance”. Also, the SRCC Board has approved Standard 600 to help in the certification of high-temperature (e.g. concentrating) collectors which cannot be tested to Standard 100, and it will be expanding system certification to include development of OG-500 for combi-systems.