Fraunhofer ISE hosts the 22nd Solar Keymark Network meeting A quest for continuous improvement

Fraunhofer ISE, with a staff of approximately 1.100, is the largest solar research institute in Europe. In its role as a recognized Solar Keymark testing laboratory, it hosted the 22nd meeting of the Solar Keymark Network (SKN) on the 7th & 8th March 2017 in its premises in Freiburg, Germany.


The meeting began with the warm welcome of the Director of the Institute, Prof. Dr. Hans-Martin Henning, to whom the SKN wishes to thank for being and excellent host.

As usual, the extensive agenda included a large number of topics relevant for SKN stakeholders. It is recommended that those with responsibilities in testing and/or certification of products have a more detailed analysis of the minutes of the meeting, which will be available from the SKN members section within weeks.

The first part of the meeting began with some improvements regarding internal procedures rules and an adaptation to our times: starting in 2018 one of the semestral physical meetings will be replaced by a web meeting. This change is quite a challenge to the organizers, especially for properly managing the online voting of a 40 member meeting.

The proposal for funding of projects under the Solar Certification Fund has been approved. Therefore a new working programme of around 1 year now begins. Many of this year’s projects are dedicated exclusively to the improvement of many areas of the Solar Keymark: Promotion, Strategy, Adding value to the certificates and database, controlling the changes on the database, improving the 10%Rule for retests, studying new scopes for certification and developing a Scheme for absorber coatings. Other projects included the usual help to liaison officers in many TCs that affect the solar thermal industry. There is also a very technical project for a new tool for Dynamic System Testing according to ISO 9459-5. With this new call, the SCF will surpass the threshold of 100 projects supported in its 8 calls so far, while the total funding allocated is now close to 1.2 million Euros.

The SKN also approved a new version of the SCF working rules, providing more clarity and fair play to the process, namely in what regards the impartiality of the SCF Steering Group members. It also included a provision allowing for volunteer evaluators to take part in the evaluation process. Anyone interested can now volunteer to be an evaluator of the next SCF call, scheduled for late 2017. The composition of the SCF steering group has also been improved, with a new member from Greece, from EBHE.

There were many relevant decisions during this meeting included the clarification on the procedures regarding PVT collectors (photovoltaic & thermal solar collectors), approval of new rules for replacing insulation materials (without retesting), new rules with a proposal for defining coloured glass families and also a precision on the use of new datasheets, namely for previously certified OEM & OBL products. It was decided to add an explanation on the website regarding the calculation methods regarding the aperture area and the total area in the respective EN 12975-2 and EN ISO 9806, since the transition from one testing standard to the other has created some confusion in the market.

A very important issue addressed refers to the complaint procedures within SKN. The overall procedure has been revised and will already be put into practice, following its approval at the previous SKN meeting. The matter of retesting and tolerance levels is still open. The process is taking longer than expected but there is a working group and an SCF Project dedicated to resolving it, and this issue shall be reported at the next SKN meeting. Information was given on a complaint process that has reached the stage in which a complaint committee needs to be set up.

Following the previous decision of engaging further with the Keymark Management Organisation (KMO), there was a presentation by the representative of the KMO. From the side of the SKN, this interaction has been dealt with by the SKN marketing and communication working group. This working group is also working on a revision of the SKN communication materials and website. Those interested in contributing to this process are advised to use the links available in the members section of the SKN website.

Finally, there were also several relevant updates from liaison officers and from the Labelpack A+ initiative, on the status of the implementation of the package label and the review process for Lot1 & Lot2.

The next meeting of the SKN will take place in Larnaca, Cyprus, on 17 & 18th October, hosted by TÜV Cyprus. At this meeting a trial web meeting will be set up for all members to use and practice on line voting.

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