UL expands its understanding of the energy sector

Jeff A. Smidt, Vice President and General Manager of UL Energy & Industrial Systems

Energy is a vast industry, from harnessing the power of the sun to tapping into resources hidden deep within the Earth. Energy sourcing and power generation, however, are really only the beginning of the story.

Energy needs to be controlled, distributed, and safely supplied to the consumers and companies who use it daily. Over the next few months, you will find this holistic, end-to-end view of energy reflected in the way UL communicates about the industry.

For instance, in this issue of Energy Outlook, you will find an article on the functional safety standards which our Power, Transmission & Distribution team develops. Or you can read about new UL testing services for smart meters, a topic which will soon be affecting manufacturers, utilities and consumers alike, particularly in the E.U. where wide-spread implementation is required by 2020.

As a world leader in product safety and performance certification, UL would like to facilitate the exchange of knowledge with our clients, partners and other stakeholders. Together, we have a responsibility to work towards a future with the safest possible use of power.

Enjoy reading this year’s first issue of Energy Outlook!

Jeff A. Smidt

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Mitigating the hazards of fire involving PV arrays

Safety is about preparing for the unexpected. Aside from minimizing potential dangers through safety certification, UL also performs safety research – so when accidents do happen, whatever the cause, we can reliably predict any hazards which may further complicate the incident.

One example of this is UL’s recently concluded investigation on the electrical and fire hazards associated with PV systems, especially the potential risks to the fire service during firefighting operations. Under the Firefighter Grant Program of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), UL conducted experiments to gather vital empirical data.

A wide range of tests were conducted on rack mounted, shingle and membrane modules, including a freestanding house with a full-scale PV array mounted on its roof. Among the findings, for instance, were that the light created by the fire itself is sufficient to generate current at hazardous levels in a typical rooftop PV array – even at night.

Based on these and other findings, a comprehensive interactive training tool has been developed, demonstrating clear steps which firefighters can take to avoid electrocution and suppress the further spreading of fire.

UL’s unique experience of both fire and electrical safety have contributed significantly to this investigation and to the training tool, helping the fire service remain safe and balanced in emergency situations, while also supporting the PV industry and the safe deployment of its technology.

Read more about the firefighter safety project

Access the online training tool for firefighters

Robert G. Backstrom, Research Engineer Fire Hazard Group, UL
Dave Dini, Research Engineer Electrical Hazard Group, UL  Corporate Research

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UL publishes safety requirements for EV batteries (UL 2580)

An emerging alignment of environmental, economic and political concerns has resulted in increased consumer interest in electric-powered vehicle (EV) technology. In fact, in just a few short years, the EV has become a surprisingly popular alternative to the petroleum-powered vehicle. According to a report by Citi Investment Research & Analysis, by 2015 there could be as many as 1 million EVs on the roads of the U.S.A. alone.

The deployment of EVs and the power infrastructure to support them will provide new business opportunities, as well as challenges. Foremost among these challenges are potential fire and electrical hazards, resulting from the complex system of electrical and electronic components required to support the recharging of on-board batteries.

"There are a number of factors that will dictate the rate of proliferation of electric vehicles on the market," says Jeff Smidt, UL Vice President and General Manager of Energy and Industrial Systems. "In our experience, we’ve learned that it always helps to gain rapid growth and market acceptance by anticipating potential safety concerns earlier in the development and manufacturing process. Our goal is to help manufacturers get safer vehicles to the market."

As part of that goal, UL recently released Standard 2580 for large EV batteries. UL 2580 is the first in a projected suite of EV battery safety standards which will include the development of UL Subject 2271 (light EV batteries) and UL Subject 1973 (stationary storage).

UL already offers certification for a wide range of EV components, including charging station equipment (UL 2202), cables (UL 62), personnel protection systems for supply circuits (UL 2231), as well as plugs, receptacles and couplers (UL 2251).

Download the UL White Paper on EV issues & challenges

Priya Tabaddor, Director Business Development, UL
Industrial & Automation Systems

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New Listing Mark expands range of UL functional safety testing

The topic of functional safety has gained considerable awareness through recent high profile incidents such as Deepwater Horizon, which brought the petrochemical industry to review its functional safety management principles.

On any scale, functional safety examines the efficacy of a safety-related system based on the various inputs to a particular device and confirming that its output remains within defined safety parameters. Inputs which are taken into consideration include component failure, operator error, systemic error, and environmental effects such as electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). Some of the products commonly evaluated for functional safety are combustion controls, laser scanners, light curtains, elevator components, gas detection equipment, motor drives, programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and automation controllers, but ultimately the list includes any product that has a safety function.

A functional safety assessment can determine whether a product meets safety performance requirements and standards, and is increasingly required by customers, government regulators, insurance companies and trade unions. A functional safety certification can also offer a competitive advantage.

In step with evolving safety standards in North America and Europe, UL is now offering a UL Functional Safety Listing Mark. The new Mark incorporates and goes beyond the traditional UL Listing. Many Listing Mark elements are also available as stand-alone functional safety services.

For more information on UL’s Functional Safety Listing Mark, standards testing and related services, please see www.ul.com/functionalsafety or contact kevin.connelly@ul.com

Kevin Connelly, Business Development Manager, Energy & Industrial Systems, UL

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Smart grid devices need to take risk management into account

With today’s intelligent monitoring, control communications and self-healing technologies, our grids already offer better, more efficient, cost effective and customer-focused delivery of electric energy. So what will tomorrow’s smart grid look like?

As the smart grid is still evolving, it will remain a hard thing to define; the same holds true for the functional safety and other risk management requirements related to it. The only current requirements are that devices are able to interact with other smart grid components with which they have never interacted before. Even ones not yet foreseen. This is where countless safety factors come into play, such as how devices might inadvertently override protective functions within the grid. UL concludes that any smart grid device is essentially relevant to safety, simply because it is part of the smart grid.

UL Subject 2744 is an Outline of Investigation that can supplement an end-product safety standard (e.g. a fire and electrical safety standard) to address products with smart grid functionality. SU 2744 requires that products be designed within a risk management system that addresses safety throughout the product lifecycle, and provides conditions for identifying functional safety requirements.

UL is also currently reassessing any end-product safety standards that may be impacted by a smart grid environment. In the meantime, if published safety requirements do not sufficiently address smart grid concerns, SU 2744 concepts can be applied.

Questions about UL Subject 2744? Contact us here

Thomas Maier, Principal Engineer, Functional Safety, UL

R. Kent Donohue, Principal Engineer, Power Supplies & Battery Chargers, UL

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UL investigates safety and data security concerns of smart meters

As a key element of the evolving smart grid, smart meters optimize power management and support environment friendly energy sources.

The advantages are multi-faceted. For consumers, smart meters optimize the transparency and costs of consuming power. For instance, devices can be set to power on when demand is low. For utilities, optimization of power distribution is a significant benefit, as smart meters allow for remote collection of precise usage and performance data, monitoring of load control and other important functions.

From the standpoint of renewable energy, smart meters make it possible for consumers to integrate self-generated power (e.g. from a domestic solar plant) into their electric billing system.

For these and other reasons, smart meters are now being rolled out in markets all over the world – with further demand driven by the European Union’s mandate for smart meters to be fitted in 80% of homes by 2020.

With this new technology, of course, come new concerns, particularly with regards to accuracy, safety and security. As a leading position in testing and certification, UL already offers smart meter manufacturers accuracy, environmental, EMC, surge and wireless testing to international requirements like ANSI, AS/NZS, IEC and EN. UL is also at the forefront of conducting research to address new concerns such as interoperability and cybersecurity.

As a part of the UL mission to create a safer world, UL is collaborating with regulators on establishing relevant safety requirements and proposing the UL Subjects SU2735 and SU2745 as a basis for the first utility meter safety standard.

Contact us to find out more about UL testing for smart meters

Mike Chan, Business Development Manager, Global Meters, UL

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In Las Vegas, UL puts the spotlight on the smart grid home

This year’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas provided a vibrant showcase for the practical implementation of technologies that were once only available on the pages of science fiction. While industry insiders pondered new opportunities to meet growing consumer demand for energy savings and user-friendly devices, the consensus was clear: smart technology has reached the tipping point, that crucial moment when an emerging technology is transformed into a universal necessity.

Contributing to the discussion, UL hosted the CES conference track series Energy and the Smart Grid Home. Attendees were offered an in-depth view of how thought leaders from industry and government envision the near future of intelligent homes, with a focus on LED, power generation through renewable energies such as solar, and energy efficiency.

Complemented by smart photography and graphics, the UL report “Insights from 2012 CES” succinctly summarizes the highlights of the conference track.

Download the UL CES Report (4MB) now

Evelyn M. Butler, Director Business Strategy, UL Energy

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IEA and IRENA to create database of global renewable energy policies

On 14 January 2012, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA) signed a letter of intent to create a joint database of worldwide renewable energy policies. The database, which will be known as the IEA/IRENA Global Renewable Energy Policies and Measures Database, will feature the renewable energy policies of approximately 150 countries, including all 28 member countries of the IEA and all of IRENA's 127 signatory countries.

The purpose behind the database is to foster best practices and cost-effective large-scale deployment of renewable energy on a global scale. Both the IEA and IRENA will be responsible for collecting and verifying information for the database, which will be updated twice annually and be accessible to the public at no cost.

In addition to the database, the letter of intent will also facilitate regular exchange of information between the IEA and IRENA, participation in each other's technical committees, as well as the organization of joint conferences and workshops.

Read more at www.IEA.org

Dustin J. Antonello, Government Affairs Specialist, UL

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New UL study sheds light on wide-ranging factors affecting product perception

The way in which manufacturers and consumers perceive products has a profound effect on global trade. Building on many years of experience in facilitating manufacturing and commerce, UL has conducted a study that aims to better understand the human priorities, attitudes and other influences that affect the dynamics of the global marketplace. The subject is complex – the results are both provocative and reaffirming.

While manufacturers are confident about the performance of their products, and consumers generally trust product quality, increased access to information is emboldening consumers to question the reputation of products which disappoint them. Among other findings, the study also found the traceability of ingredients or materials used in a product is of increasing interest to consumers.

Read the complete study: Navigating the Product Mindset

Carla Slawson, Public Relations and Communications Manager, UL

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Tradition of learning continues under UL Knowledge Services

UL has long provided specialized training and advisory services to customers in the energy industry – in the form of workshops, eLearning, personnel certifications and audits and assessments. These offerings, formerly from UL University, will continue under a new name: UL Knowledge Services.

With the aim of turning knowledge into tangible solutions for customers around the globe, UL Knowledge Services recently expanded the range of its offerings to include training and software in occupational health, wellness, and safety.

For more information on these offerings, including training dates, locations and pricing, or to request a quote for an advisory service, please visit www.ulknowledgeservices.com

Patrick Boyle, President, UL Knowledge Services

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UL Verification

Underwriters Laboratories Inc. is not only a global leader in product safety testing and certification but UL‘s involvement in commercial testing, inspection, and audit work is recognized and respected around the world as well.

Today, it is a constant challenge to find cost effective ways to test and inspect products without compromising quality. UL‘s Research & Development (R&D) Testing, Verification Testing, Inspection & Audit Services and our Retailer Services support manufacturing business operations from initial design through prototyping and into final production, while also enhancing retail supply chain quality management operations.

Read More at: UL Verification services

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UL Environment

UL Environment is a new source for independent green claims validation, product certification, advisory services and standards development. We‘re here to help manufacturers, their business customers and consumers alike get clarity on what may or may not be a sustainable product.

Read More at: www.ulenvironment.com

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