On 24 June 2020, the National Energy Administration (NEA) published a call for comments on the Guiding Opinions on Accelerating the Establishment of New Standard Systems for Energy, which were jointly formulated with the Standardisation Administration of China (SAC). SESEC’s summary of the key highlights of the document are:
Objectives of the reform:
- Clearly define the role of the government and of the market in energy standardisation, and specifically the scope of the standards led by the government and that of standards led by the market;
- Determine the scope, boundaries and levels of new energy standard systems, based on science as well as on the industrial development and standardisation progress of sectors including electricity, nuclear power, coal, oil gas, new energy and renewable energy, and electric devices; efforts to constantly improve these standard systems should be made.
Mandatory standards for the energy sector should be confined to those areas affecting people’s health, personal and property safety, national security, and ecological and environmental security, as well as to those areas relating to the basic requirements of socio-economic management. Specifically, standards that fall into these categories mainly include standards for electrical safety, petroleum products, environmental protection that involves energy, energy efficiency, energy consumption quotas per unit of product, and engineering construction.
Recommended standards should highlight their public-welfare nature. Recommended national standards can, in general, be classified into three types:
- Basic generic standards that stipulate terminology, graphic symbols, classification and coding for energy and other industries;
- Testing methods and measurement standards that are complementary to mandatory standards and that contribute to their actual implementation;
- Standards that play a leading role in their corresponding industries.
Association standards should continue to be led by the market, with the focus on raising competitiveness. The future development of association standards should put strong emphasis on new technologies, sectors, modes and models of energy, in harmony with the implementation of national and sectoral standards.
Based on the clarified scopes of national, sectoral and association standards, the definition of each standard level should also be set in a scientific manner. The boundaries of generic basic standards and of standards for products, services, technology and management, should be properly defined, thus contributing to the shaping of a clear standard system which also meets the needs for international standardisation exchange and cooperation.
Management of standards:
In order to give full play to market forces, the number of newly-released energy sectoral standards should be limited by (i) expanding the coverage of each standard, and (ii) facilitating the serialisation of standards. In sectors such as electricity, coal, oil gas and electrical devices, further efforts should be made for the coordination, integration and optimisation of recommended national standards with sectoral standards for energy.
The selection of the most appropriate association standards should rely on market competition. This entails research to establish an effective mechanism for the conversion of association standards into national or sectoral standards. Besides, a complaint and reporting mechanism for association standards should also be built, according to which an evaluation of good practices can be conducted by the administrative bodies for energy standardisations established by NEA and all relevant standardisation technical committees (TCs).
Development of standards:
The priority for the establishment of new standard systems for energy should be put on emerging sectors, such as intelligent energy, the Internet of Energy, wind power, solar power, biomass energy, energy storage, and hydrogen energy.
In principle, the establishment and management of standardisation TCs, as well as the formulation of standard development and revision plans, should be carried out on the basis of the energy standard systems.
Coordination of work:
Energy standardisation TCs should be responsible for the establishment of national standard systems and sectoral standard systems for energy, as well as for the design and maintenance of standard system diagrams. In case of contradictions emerging during the establishment of energy standard systems, such as overlaps among the scopes of work of various TCs or administrative bodies, these should be adjusted and coordinated for the former by administrative bodies for energy standardisation, and for the latter by NEA and SAC.
Social organisations that develop association standards should comply with relevant regulations, keep standard systems coordinated and unified, and ensure that association standards are aligned with national and sectoral energy standards.
Constant efforts should be made to facilitate the disclosure of information on recommended national standards and sectoral standards for energy, adhering to the principle that ‘publication is the norm, non-disclosure is the exception’. Based on the needs of their work, energy standardisation technical organisations should disclose, in a timely manner, information and diagrams of the energy standard systems on relevant standardisation information platforms, and organise divulgation services.
In general, the Guiding Opinions on Accelerating the Establishment of New Standard Systems for Energy reflect the implementation of the standardisation reform specifically in the energy field. The document sets a clear definition of the role and relationships of all levels of energy standards, and outlines the needs for executing and coordinating standardisation work among all actors involved. At the same time, the document also suggests that the government still holds prominent control over the standardisation work in the energy field. For example, the development of association standards should be carried out under the standard systems designed by the government, should align with government standards, and should be subject to government-led performance evaluation. Finally, although the disclosure of information is a requirement clearly highlighted in the document, the specific requirements of information disclosure remain vague: this may potentially result in difficulties for enforcement, or worse in apparently but not essentially public information.