VeraSol Stakeholder Survey Reveals Pandemic Challenges, New Opportunities for Certification
Every two years, we survey our program stakeholders and partners to assess the usefulness of VeraSol’s services. The 2022 survey received 37 responses, representing various organizations and stakeholder groups (see Figure 1). Survey analysis reveals three key insights:
- a majority of people find VeraSol services valuable
- the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose challenges for our partners
- demand for certification is expanding, including new technology types and productive use equipment
Key Insight 1: A majority of people find VeraSol services valuable.
Overall, 76% of respondents were likely or very likely to recommend VeraSol to a colleague, and different stakeholder groups valued various services. Our largest group of stakeholders, manufacturers and distributors, find test reports and the VeraSol Product Database, both for visibility and its role as a reference tool, to be most valuable (Figure 2). Respondents from trade associations, program implementors, and donors echo the value of the database, with 75% of respondents from those groups noting that they identify high-quality off-grid products by referencing the VeraSol Product Database.
Respondents seeking certification or who already have certified products noted leveraging their product’s certification to meet the eligibility requirements of market development programs and facilitate market entry into certain countries. In addition, VeraSol’s test lab partners appreciate technical support and training, while program implementors appreciate program design support and technical notes.
Key Insight 2: COVID-19-related challenges still persist and affect the quality assurance process for our partners.
Survey respondents provide insights into what aspects of the quality assurance process have been impacted. Most manufacturer respondents (over 90%) have experienced challenges related to COVID-19 (Figure 3). Challenges cited include paying certification and test lab fees (52%), struggles to meet minimum stock requirements (48%), and shipping delays (43%). A few respondents noted a longer testing and certification timeline, reflecting that the VeraSol team and partner test labs have also struggled with delays related to COVID-19.
The VeraSol team acknowledges these difficulties and updated our policies to alleviate some challenges, such as offering 6-month COVID extensions to product expiration dates to accommodate stock, shipping, and testing difficulties. We will continue to monitor challenges experienced by partners, ensuring that VeraSol services adapt to changing market conditions.
Key Insight 3: Demand for certification is expanding, including new technology types and productive use equipment.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for VeraSol certification services has remained consistent. 73% of manufacturers and distributors surveyed stated that they plan to submit a solar energy kit for testing within the next six months, compared to 75% in the 2020 edition of this survey.
Survey data indicate that additional flexibility in solar energy kit certification is a priority for various stakeholders (Figure 4). 52% of respondents would like certification for kits with PV modules greater than 350 watts, and 44% support certification for components to add further flexibility to VeraSol’s existing family certification pathway.
Increasingly available productive use technologies, like refrigerators and solar water pumps, are most in demand for inclusion in VeraSol’s certification scope, with over 50% of respondents requesting each appliance. This demand aligns with VeraSol’s upcoming certification of refrigerators as standalone products and as part of a solar home system. VeraSol already tests solar water pumps and shares performance data on the VeraSol Product Database and will continue to monitor demand for certification services for SWPs.
Carrying Key Insights Forward
We sincerely thank all stakeholders who took the time to complete our 2022 survey. Customer feedback is a critical component of our quality assurance program, and we will continue to expand this engagement moving forward. This information will help shape program policies and guide our team on what services will be needed in the growing off-grid solar sector. Please subscribe to our monthly newsletter or visit our stakeholder engagement page to be notified of future opportunities. If you have any questions regarding the 2022 survey, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.