From renewable energy to water purification and sewage treatment, European businesses are amongst the most innovative in the world when it comes to green tech, the technology using science to monitor and conserve the natural environment. But many European green tech pioneers especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) struggle to break out beyond their home markets simply because they cannot prove to wider audiences how well they can work.
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Now, however, a new programme in its pilot phase is giving them a springboard to reach across Europe and beyond by offering an independent evaluation of their performance through an Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) scheme. The ETV tests whether the performance claims of technology developers and vendors are complete, fair and based on reliable results. The validation is expected to help users and investors choose and invest in environmentally sound technologies, and boost businesses built around innovative environmental technologies.
The European Union (EU)-funded project, AdvanceETV, aims to help proven new green technologies earn global recognition through verification on European and international level. This includes technologies addressing water treatment and monitoring, materials, waste and resources as well as energy technologies. Candidate technologies would only have to be verified once before being accepted in all the countries participating in the EU-ETV pilot programme.
"This project is about bridging the gap between technology concepts and their take up in the market," says AdvanceETV project coordinator Thomas Track, from DECHEMA Gesellschaft für Chemische Technik und Biotechnologie e.V. (Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology) in Frankfurt. "The European market is fragmented and businesses complain that they have to do demonstration projects across the 27 EU member states. With ETV we want to make it easier to launch their environmental technologies, through a 'verified once, accepted everywhere' principle."
The three-and-a-half year project, which runs until mid-July 2012, is backed by a €1 million EU grant. It has two main aims.
The first aim is to help build and implement an EU ETV pilot programme to determine the performance characteristics of new technologies. Key to this is the collection and analysis of credible data by independent third parties on clean-environment technologies.
The second is to promote an international cooperation on ETV through common approaches on environmental technology performance claims. It will help the EU, the United States, Canada and other countries with ETV systems reach a framework for mutual recognition through co-verification and joint verification.
Track says the verifications under AdvanceETV will serve as pilots to help draw up a road map for mutual recognition under the different ETV schemes. One project that was followed in the preparation of the EU ETV pilot programme is a voltage reduction device, a microprocessor controlled converter that is placed in front of the power connection of fluorescent lighting, which can provide energy savings of up to 20%.
But the main result, Track says, is to push for harmonisation of different ETV schemes across the world. "We have supported the set up a framework to ensure ETV procedures are accepted everywhere," he says, adding that there is now a powerful momentum for common rules over ETV schemes.
Track underlines that the AdvanceETV project is embedded in Europe policy aims to promote innovative green technologies as part of its sustainable development strategy and to promote innovative businesses. "It helps Europe become a market leader in green technologies as it moves to a more eco-friendly, sustainable future," he says.