Tech firms must heed Volkswagen scandal

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Richard Heap
October 5, 2015
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This content is from our archive. Some formatting or links may be broken.
Tech firms must heed Volkswagen scandal

Are we seeing a change in how people think about the energy performance of technology?

Many parts of the world, including the European Union, have had energy rating labels for cars, homes and household appliances for some time, but whether that affects consumer decisions is another matter. If two products are equal in every other way then a consumer would probably pick the one with a better energy rating, but that is about as far as it goes.

Or, at least, that is what we thought before the Volkswagen scandal blew up. It now seems people are becoming more demanding that companies can replicate their lab results in the real world.

This means that tech firms, including turbine manufacturers, must be able to back up claims they make about the ‘green’ performance of their machines. If they cannot do so then the impact on a firm’s reputation and financial performance can be disastrous. Likewise, developers must be able to prove their schemes are generating the energy they promised.

Now, you don’t need to be an avid news reader to know that Volkswagen is in trouble, and has been forced to recall 11million vehicles worldwide. It is alleged that the business has fitted software to some of its cars to enable them to put out lower emissions when they are being tested. Outside of test conditions these cars pump out far more emissions.

This does not mean that Volkswagen is suddenly producing bad cars. It is not. However, it does show the strength of feeling when consumers feel they have been duped.

Firms in all sectors should be aware that they will not just be judged on whether their product passes official tests, but whether they are doing the right things morally when not being tested.

Of course, this is tricky to manage because people have different moral codes. Broadly, though, if it looks like you are trying to con the system then that is what people will think.

Following this, we have also seen accusations that Samsung TVs perform less effectively in terms of energy efficiency in the real world than in lab tests. The company has strongly denied claims
that its ‘motion lighting’ feature is set up to fool official tests.

This should be a concern for those who work in wind.

It is not enough to simply measure how well a new piece of technology works in a lab. Developers, investors and consumers are increasingly demanding that this tech can work at a similar level in real life situations, where there can be a wide variability in wind speeds, weather and other conditions.

The lesson applies to whole wind farms too. Those in the industry acknowledge that, in the past, there have been some questionable wind farms built in good locations. That meant a quick buck and often a lucrative subsidy but, in the long run, schemes like that do nothing for the reputation of the market. Now that some projects are starting to reach the end of their life cycle, there is a chance to repower these schemes to deliver on their potential.

If firms build ineffective projects then they cannot complain if they receive public hostility, but it also harms their peers in the industry.

So, back to the original question.

Yes, we do see a shift in how people think about the real-world performance of technology, and the Volkswagen scandal shows no company is immune from examination. Most wind companies are highly reputable and we have not yet seen a serious ‘cheating’ scandal in the sector, but we would not be surprised if we did.

That is the tricky bit about public outrage: it is unpredictable and can hit companies that do not think they are doing anything wrong.

Are we seeing a change in how people think about the energy performance of technology?

Many parts of the world, including the European Union, have had energy rating labels for cars, homes and household appliances for some time, but whether that affects consumer decisions is another matter. If two products are equal in every other way then a consumer would probably pick the one with a better energy rating, but that is about as far as it goes.

Or, at least, that is what we thought before the Volkswagen scandal blew up. It now seems people are becoming more demanding that companies can replicate their lab results in the real world.

This means that tech firms, including turbine manufacturers, must be able to back up claims they make about the ‘green’ performance of their machines. If they cannot do so then the impact on a firm’s reputation and financial performance can be disastrous. Likewise, developers must be able to prove their schemes are generating the energy they promised.

Now, you don’t need to be an avid news reader to know that Volkswagen is in trouble, and has been forced to recall 11million vehicles worldwide. It is alleged that the business has fitted software to some of its cars to enable them to put out lower emissions when they are being tested. Outside of test conditions these cars pump out far more emissions.

This does not mean that Volkswagen is suddenly producing bad cars. It is not. However, it does show the strength of feeling when consumers feel they have been duped.

Firms in all sectors should be aware that they will not just be judged on whether their product passes official tests, but whether they are doing the right things morally when not being tested.

Of course, this is tricky to manage because people have different moral codes. Broadly, though, if it looks like you are trying to con the system then that is what people will think.

Following this, we have also seen accusations that Samsung TVs perform less effectively in terms of energy efficiency in the real world than in lab tests. The company has strongly denied claims
that its ‘motion lighting’ feature is set up to fool official tests.

This should be a concern for those who work in wind.

It is not enough to simply measure how well a new piece of technology works in a lab. Developers, investors and consumers are increasingly demanding that this tech can work at a similar level in real life situations, where there can be a wide variability in wind speeds, weather and other conditions.

The lesson applies to whole wind farms too. Those in the industry acknowledge that, in the past, there have been some questionable wind farms built in good locations. That meant a quick buck and often a lucrative subsidy but, in the long run, schemes like that do nothing for the reputation of the market. Now that some projects are starting to reach the end of their life cycle, there is a chance to repower these schemes to deliver on their potential.

If firms build ineffective projects then they cannot complain if they receive public hostility, but it also harms their peers in the industry.

So, back to the original question.

Yes, we do see a shift in how people think about the real-world performance of technology, and the Volkswagen scandal shows no company is immune from examination. Most wind companies are highly reputable and we have not yet seen a serious ‘cheating’ scandal in the sector, but we would not be surprised if we did.

That is the tricky bit about public outrage: it is unpredictable and can hit companies that do not think they are doing anything wrong.

Are we seeing a change in how people think about the energy performance of technology?

Many parts of the world, including the European Union, have had energy rating labels for cars, homes and household appliances for some time, but whether that affects consumer decisions is another matter. If two products are equal in every other way then a consumer would probably pick the one with a better energy rating, but that is about as far as it goes.

Or, at least, that is what we thought before the Volkswagen scandal blew up. It now seems people are becoming more demanding that companies can replicate their lab results in the real world.

This means that tech firms, including turbine manufacturers, must be able to back up claims they make about the ‘green’ performance of their machines. If they cannot do so then the impact on a firm’s reputation and financial performance can be disastrous. Likewise, developers must be able to prove their schemes are generating the energy they promised.

Now, you don’t need to be an avid news reader to know that Volkswagen is in trouble, and has been forced to recall 11million vehicles worldwide. It is alleged that the business has fitted software to some of its cars to enable them to put out lower emissions when they are being tested. Outside of test conditions these cars pump out far more emissions.

This does not mean that Volkswagen is suddenly producing bad cars. It is not. However, it does show the strength of feeling when consumers feel they have been duped.

Firms in all sectors should be aware that they will not just be judged on whether their product passes official tests, but whether they are doing the right things morally when not being tested.

Of course, this is tricky to manage because people have different moral codes. Broadly, though, if it looks like you are trying to con the system then that is what people will think.

Following this, we have also seen accusations that Samsung TVs perform less effectively in terms of energy efficiency in the real world than in lab tests. The company has strongly denied claims
that its ‘motion lighting’ feature is set up to fool official tests.

This should be a concern for those who work in wind.

It is not enough to simply measure how well a new piece of technology works in a lab. Developers, investors and consumers are increasingly demanding that this tech can work at a similar level in real life situations, where there can be a wide variability in wind speeds, weather and other conditions.

The lesson applies to whole wind farms too. Those in the industry acknowledge that, in the past, there have been some questionable wind farms built in good locations. That meant a quick buck and often a lucrative subsidy but, in the long run, schemes like that do nothing for the reputation of the market. Now that some projects are starting to reach the end of their life cycle, there is a chance to repower these schemes to deliver on their potential.

If firms build ineffective projects then they cannot complain if they receive public hostility, but it also harms their peers in the industry.

So, back to the original question.

Yes, we do see a shift in how people think about the real-world performance of technology, and the Volkswagen scandal shows no company is immune from examination. Most wind companies are highly reputable and we have not yet seen a serious ‘cheating’ scandal in the sector, but we would not be surprised if we did.

That is the tricky bit about public outrage: it is unpredictable and can hit companies that do not think they are doing anything wrong.

Are we seeing a change in how people think about the energy performance of technology?

Many parts of the world, including the European Union, have had energy rating labels for cars, homes and household appliances for some time, but whether that affects consumer decisions is another matter. If two products are equal in every other way then a consumer would probably pick the one with a better energy rating, but that is about as far as it goes.

Or, at least, that is what we thought before the Volkswagen scandal blew up. It now seems people are becoming more demanding that companies can replicate their lab results in the real world.

This means that tech firms, including turbine manufacturers, must be able to back up claims they make about the ‘green’ performance of their machines. If they cannot do so then the impact on a firm’s reputation and financial performance can be disastrous. Likewise, developers must be able to prove their schemes are generating the energy they promised.

Now, you don’t need to be an avid news reader to know that Volkswagen is in trouble, and has been forced to recall 11million vehicles worldwide. It is alleged that the business has fitted software to some of its cars to enable them to put out lower emissions when they are being tested. Outside of test conditions these cars pump out far more emissions.

This does not mean that Volkswagen is suddenly producing bad cars. It is not. However, it does show the strength of feeling when consumers feel they have been duped.

Firms in all sectors should be aware that they will not just be judged on whether their product passes official tests, but whether they are doing the right things morally when not being tested.

Of course, this is tricky to manage because people have different moral codes. Broadly, though, if it looks like you are trying to con the system then that is what people will think.

Following this, we have also seen accusations that Samsung TVs perform less effectively in terms of energy efficiency in the real world than in lab tests. The company has strongly denied claims
that its ‘motion lighting’ feature is set up to fool official tests.

This should be a concern for those who work in wind.

It is not enough to simply measure how well a new piece of technology works in a lab. Developers, investors and consumers are increasingly demanding that this tech can work at a similar level in real life situations, where there can be a wide variability in wind speeds, weather and other conditions.

The lesson applies to whole wind farms too. Those in the industry acknowledge that, in the past, there have been some questionable wind farms built in good locations. That meant a quick buck and often a lucrative subsidy but, in the long run, schemes like that do nothing for the reputation of the market. Now that some projects are starting to reach the end of their life cycle, there is a chance to repower these schemes to deliver on their potential.

If firms build ineffective projects then they cannot complain if they receive public hostility, but it also harms their peers in the industry.

So, back to the original question.

Yes, we do see a shift in how people think about the real-world performance of technology, and the Volkswagen scandal shows no company is immune from examination. Most wind companies are highly reputable and we have not yet seen a serious ‘cheating’ scandal in the sector, but we would not be surprised if we did.

That is the tricky bit about public outrage: it is unpredictable and can hit companies that do not think they are doing anything wrong.

Are we seeing a change in how people think about the energy performance of technology?

Many parts of the world, including the European Union, have had energy rating labels for cars, homes and household appliances for some time, but whether that affects consumer decisions is another matter. If two products are equal in every other way then a consumer would probably pick the one with a better energy rating, but that is about as far as it goes.

Or, at least, that is what we thought before the Volkswagen scandal blew up. It now seems people are becoming more demanding that companies can replicate their lab results in the real world.

This means that tech firms, including turbine manufacturers, must be able to back up claims they make about the ‘green’ performance of their machines. If they cannot do so then the impact on a firm’s reputation and financial performance can be disastrous. Likewise, developers must be able to prove their schemes are generating the energy they promised.

Now, you don’t need to be an avid news reader to know that Volkswagen is in trouble, and has been forced to recall 11million vehicles worldwide. It is alleged that the business has fitted software to some of its cars to enable them to put out lower emissions when they are being tested. Outside of test conditions these cars pump out far more emissions.

This does not mean that Volkswagen is suddenly producing bad cars. It is not. However, it does show the strength of feeling when consumers feel they have been duped.

Firms in all sectors should be aware that they will not just be judged on whether their product passes official tests, but whether they are doing the right things morally when not being tested.

Of course, this is tricky to manage because people have different moral codes. Broadly, though, if it looks like you are trying to con the system then that is what people will think.

Following this, we have also seen accusations that Samsung TVs perform less effectively in terms of energy efficiency in the real world than in lab tests. The company has strongly denied claims
that its ‘motion lighting’ feature is set up to fool official tests.

This should be a concern for those who work in wind.

It is not enough to simply measure how well a new piece of technology works in a lab. Developers, investors and consumers are increasingly demanding that this tech can work at a similar level in real life situations, where there can be a wide variability in wind speeds, weather and other conditions.

The lesson applies to whole wind farms too. Those in the industry acknowledge that, in the past, there have been some questionable wind farms built in good locations. That meant a quick buck and often a lucrative subsidy but, in the long run, schemes like that do nothing for the reputation of the market. Now that some projects are starting to reach the end of their life cycle, there is a chance to repower these schemes to deliver on their potential.

If firms build ineffective projects then they cannot complain if they receive public hostility, but it also harms their peers in the industry.

So, back to the original question.

Yes, we do see a shift in how people think about the real-world performance of technology, and the Volkswagen scandal shows no company is immune from examination. Most wind companies are highly reputable and we have not yet seen a serious ‘cheating’ scandal in the sector, but we would not be surprised if we did.

That is the tricky bit about public outrage: it is unpredictable and can hit companies that do not think they are doing anything wrong.

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Full archive access is available to members only

Not a member yet?

Become a member of the 6,500-strong A Word About Wind community today, and gain access to our premium content, exclusive lead generation and investment opportunities.