Protecting the environment
Building resilience and increasing sustainability
Scientists believe that human activity since the mid-20th century is causing the rapid warming of the Earth's climate system. This is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events, with an ever-increasing number of people affected by floods, storms, heatwaves and droughts.
IEC Standards, together with testing and certification, help countries and industries to adopt more sustainable technologies. They also help strengthen the disaster resilience of infrastructure, reducing disaster risks, accelerating recovery and overall impact. Countries that implement IEC Standards enjoy easier access to sustainable technologies and are better able to mitigate the impact of disasters.
Efficient use of resources
IEC International Standards are key in supporting organizations to achieve a minimal impact on the environment and optimal use of resources. Energy efficiency is one area where standards have a significant role in reducing energy consumption. A shift towards an economic model that introduces continual cycles of recovery and restoration of products and materials, known as a circular economy, is gaining momentum and will require standards. The IEC has published several standards recently that address material efficiency. IEC technical committees are also considering issues such as how to guarantee safety requirements when accounting for the increased number of ‘life-times’ for products and parts through product reuse and the utilization of used components and recycled content in new products or repair activities.
IEC International Standards also address the substances and processes used in the manufacture of electrotechnical equipment and systems. Commonly referred to as "hazardous substances" these are elements or compounds which can have serious consequences on the environment or human well-being. IEC expertise is being used by government regulatory authorities around the world to ensure that the optimal solutions are put in place to manage these substances.
The IEC has a dedicated advisory committee on environmental aspects (ACEA) which coordinates and guides the IEC's efforts to ensure that IEC International Standards do not include specifications which would harm the environment. In addition, Technical Committee 111 is dedicated specifically to writing International Standards on the environmental aspects of electrotechnology.
Using renewable sources
It is predicted that a large percentage of electrical energy will be produced by renewable sources in the future. Large-scale use of renewable energy is important as it helps reduce dependence on fossil fuels, combat global warming and raise the living standards of people in developing countries. IEC International Standards and Conformity Assessment Systems help these technologies become marketable. They provide a foundation for certification systems, promote international trade of uniform high-quality products and support the transfer of expertise from traditional energy systems.
While many efforts are required to keep up with the pace of developments in renewable energy technologies, the IEC is dedicated to setting International Standards that serve the planet in this market sector. The IEC has several technical committees working in the field of renewable and clean energies, looking at areas such as hydropower, ocean power, solar energy, wind turbines, fuel cell technologies and nuclear instrumentation.
Through its activities in renewable and clean energies, the IEC is contributing to global efforts, helping industry and government mitigate the effects of climate change.