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WindMade Label to Expand to Other Renewables

In a press conference held December 4 during the COP18 climate change conference in Doha, the WindMade organization announced it's no longer just concerned about promoting wind energy, but all renewables. A product label launched in 2011 with the aim of offering consumers an easy way to identify companies and products that use wind energy, WindMade's success has enabled it to expand its focus to develop a new label that includes companies that also rely on solar, geothermal, hydro, and biomass.

“We see demand in the marketplace for a broader consumer label which covers not only wind powered electricity, but other renewable sources as well,” said Steve Sawyer, Secretary General of the Global Wind Energy Council and Chairman of WindMade. “Many companies have already made significant efforts, and we want to give them the best opportunity to make that initiative available to their customers.”

To date, more than 50 major global corporations have adopted the WindMade label for their products, including Motorola, Deutsche Bank, Bloomberg, Widex, and BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company).

While the premise behind WindMade is simple — corporations that meet the non-profit’s criteria of using wind power for at least 25 percent of their energy consumption get to bear the WindMade logo on their products, giving consumers the information necessary to “vote” for renewable energy with their wallets — the aim to include other renewable energy technologies like solar, hydro, geothermal and biomass into a unified brand label presents a few additional challenges.

Citing a “broadly representative and highly competent technical committee,” which will determine specific criteria for label qualification for the various renewable energy technologies being brought into the fold, Sawyer indicated there remain some obstacles to be overcome. “Solar PV is obvious,” Sawyer said, discussing the variety of renewable energy technologies being considered for inclusion, “but beyond that, it’s not so obvious. There are issues, environmental and social issues, that need to be taken into consideration.”

Samantha Smith, leader of the WWF's Global Climate and Energy Initiative, said that her organization will tackle the not inconsiderable task of defining the criteria for WindMade label qualification. “It’s pretty straightforward with solar PV, and to some extent with concentrated solar power and geothermal,” Smith said. “But when we get to the sustainable use of biomass and hydropower, there are big differences in how you do it and how big a component of your energy system it is. That’s our role – to make sure companies comply with the absolute highest standards on sustainability.”

According to a recent consumer survey by Vestas Wind Systems, 62 percent of people indicated that they would have a greater willingness to buy products made by companies that rely on renewable energy for their production. Additionally, one out of every two people surveyed said they would be willing to pay more money for products made using renewable energy.

The newly announced label — which is under development through a collaboration between WindMade, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), UN Global Compact, and Vestas — is slated to be launched sometime in 2013.

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Vince Font is a freelance journalist specializing in the fields of renewable energy, high tech, travel, and entertainment. Read his blog at www.vincefont.com or follow him on Twitter @vincefont.

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