Environment

Performance verification to boost new eco-technologies

01/03/2012

New eco-technologies can face one major hurdle compared to their traditional competitors. Many purchasers prefer tried and tested equipment over a potentially superior alternative without an established track record. A pilot verification programme aims to remove this obstacle by providing innovators with an independent assessment they can present of their product’s performance.

The EU Environmental Technology Verification pilot programme (ETV) aims to provide independent and credible information about new environmental technologies. Part of the ecoinnovation action plan, this service will help three distinct groups.

The objective assessments will enable manufacturers to provide reliable evidence to investors and customers on the performance of new eco-technologies coming on the market. Purchasers will have access to verified and scientifically valid data on which to base their decisions. Regulators and policy makers will have solid information on the capabilities of the new technologies being developed.

The programme is based on the results of various research and pilot projects which developed the ETV concept between 2004 and 2009 in areas such as water treatment, soil and groundwater remediation, air emissions abatement and tested the concept in real-life conditions in 30 technologies.

Verification procedures

In 2009 and 2010, seven Member States – Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Poland and the United Kingdom – helped prepare the pilot programme and formed the ETV Steering Group. The ETV pilot programme itself is open to participants from any EU or associated country.

Verification bodies such as technical centres and laboratories wishing to participate in the programme have to be accredited by the relevant national organisations, demonstrating they have the independence and competence to carry out the necessary scientific verification tests, the first of which are expected to be completed after the summer.

For technology developers, verification is just one step in the lengthy process which begins with research and occurs when the product is ready to be marketed. For ETV, a general protocol sets out specific procedures and requirements to ensure the quality, reliability and credibility of the test data, while leaving room for flexibility.

The Commission is now establishing technical groups for technology areas such as water, energy and waste and in the autumn will set up an advisory forum to ensure stakeholder involvement. Discussions are also taking place with countries such as the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines which apply similar programmes to establish mutual recognition of the verification system.

Costs to a company from this facility can vary considerably, but on average are around EUR 28 000 for verification alone. When testing is included, this can rise to some EUR 53 000. However, various forms of EU and national funding are available and are designed to limit the cost to small and medium-sized enterprises to around EUR 20 000.

 

Industry and technology