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Quality infrastructure for renewable energy sources and energy efficiency in Latin America and the Caribbean


The transition to renewable energies and increased energy efficiency is also high on the political agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean. By 2014, an impressive 54 % of the demand for energy was already covered by regenerative sources – mainly by large-scale hydropower plants which are, however, socially and environmentally controversial. Therefore, the potential for renewable energies remains large, which is also reflected in a great number of government initiatives. In addition, programs to improve energy efficiency are being developed. The importance of this topic is also taken into account in German development policy: The sustainable production and use of energy is a core subject in the cooperation concept of the German Federal Government with regard to Latin America.

An expert testing a collector of solar-thermal energy within the scope of the Technical Cooperation with Mexico.

In this context, the project “Quality infrastructure for energy efficiency and renewable energies in Latin America and the Caribbean” is being implemented on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It operates under the umbrella of the Organization of American States (OAS) and is aimed at strengthening the regional organizations for metrology (Sistema Interamericano de Metrología, SIM), standardization (Comisión Panamericana de Normas Técnicas, COPANT) and accreditation (Inter-American Accreditation Cooperation, IAAC) along with their national members. A visible success of the continuous cooperation of these organizations is their association in the Quality Infrastructure Council of the Americas (QICA) which was formalized in 2014. In addition, the project formed a strategic partnership with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Latin American Energy Organization (Organización Latinoamericana de Energía, OLADE). The sector competence of these organizations contributes to steering the cooperation and defining its contents.

The reliable measurement of energy is, among other things, indispensible for the effective implementation of national development plans and energy policies. For this purpose, the technical competence of the partner institutions is consolidated by a regional exchange of experience as well as by capacity development courses and study trips. Thus, the services offered for the verification of energy meters have been improved in many national metrology institutes such as in Costa Rica, Panama, Peru and Paraguay. The partners in Bolivia, in the Dominican Republic and in El Salvador now offer these services for the first time. Uruguay and Colombia have developed capacities for the measurement of electric voltage and line frequency.

Furthermore, the first inter-American proficiency test for the measurement of energy efficiency for refrigerators was performed within the scope of the project. Eleven laboratories from seven countries participated in this test.

In dialogue forums, political decision-makers are frequently informed about the importance of quality infrastructure1) for the different topics: An example is the dialogue forum on solar-thermal energy which took place in Costa Rica in July 2015 with participants from 14 countries of the region. This forum was organized in cooperation with OLADE and IRENA.

To implement these activities, the project makes use of existing structures in the regional and national partner organizations. These structures are often also the fruits of many years of cooperation with PTB in the region. Partners from nations such as Argentina, Brazil or Mexico regularly contribute know-how of their own.

Also at this level, PTB is involved in the field of energy. An example of this is the cooperation with the Mexican National Commission for the Efficient Use of Energy (Comisión Nacional para el Uso Eficiente de la Energía, CONUEE) which supports small and medium-sized enterprises in the implementation of energy management systems. In addition, the project assists five test laboratories in the field of solarthermal energy on their way towards accreditation. For this purpose, a comparison measurement for pyranometers was performed in September in cooperation with the Mexican metrology institute (Centro Nacional de Metrología, CENAM). These devices for the measurement of incident global solar radiation are, among other things, required to determine the efficiency of solar collectors.

The sustainable establishment of such capacities on site is an important goal of the Technical Cooperation. The positive developments achieved in this way in the fields of energy efficiency and renewable energies contribute, among other things, to mitigating climate change. This will, in turn, benefit people all over the world.