Solar heating and cooling standard setting : an institutional analysis case study
Author(s)Nutt-Powell, Thomas Evan; Wagner, Judith
As a companion to other studies of the standards problem for photovoltaics, this paper reports results of an institutional analysis case study of the effort to create solar thermal standards during the period 1974-78. The standards setting institutional arena is described. In the US, most standards are achieved through a voluntary consensus process; there are mandatory standards only when referenced or formally adopted by a governmental body. The justification most frequently offered for having two systems is that the voluntary consensus approach resolves primarily technical issues, while the mandatory system encompasses political questions. This study found that the solar standards development process from 1974-78 was characterized by * a horizontal rather than vertical structure; * extensive public prompting, albeit by agencies for which standards development is at best a secondary mission; * rapid acceptance of the concept of solar energy, despite continuing and considerable technical debate. It is concluded that the development of standards is a story of the interaction of self-interest, and that the failure to account for significant interests (whether technical or political) can effectively scuttle a standard development effort. For the case reported here, the process for the development of solar standards was inclusive of many interests, and, as a consequence, appeared to proceed at a rapid rate. However solar standards development is entering a second stage, with the consumer/producer debate (the "political" dimension) assuming a more central role.
MIT Energy Laboratory
Photovoltaic power generation., Solar heating., Solar air conditioning.
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