Friday, 22 April, 2022
This International Earth Day, Gregorio Acero CQP MCQI, Chair of the CQI’s Renewable Energy Special Interest Group, looks at how quality professionals can support the move to a future of sustainability.

The theme for Earth Day 2022 is “Invest in our planet”, but how are quality professionals contributing to this? We, at the Renewable Energy Special Interest Group, are convinced the traditional role of quality is critical to achieve a sustainable future: assurance, governance, improvement and leadership are, as they always were, the cornerstones for swift and successful innovations and investments ensuring we leave a better planet for generations to come. 

Supporting the transition to renewable energy 

Currently, many of the sustainable energy main original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are struggling – this information is readily available in the public reports online. Put simply, they are not a profitable business. This lack of profitability is leading to a reduction in investment, preventing innovation and improvement, and even jeopardising investment committed to new factories, products and projects.  

Reducing the cost of poor quality, by applying an adequate assurance process, is key to increasing certainty in the business case for shifting to sustainable energy sources. This increase in certainty should prevent governments and companies from looking for excuses based on possible business risks.   

In order to reduce the cost of poor quality, the renewable energy sector needs strong standardised processes that have been agreed at a sectoral level, better data capturing and analysis capabilities across the value chain, and a professional quality workforce. It is in our hands as quality professionals to stand up and change this. 

Quality’s role in delivering goals  

The role of the quality department in governance is crucial. Today, many companies promise ambitious goals related to sustainability, which are never actually carried out. This occurs not because of a lack of will or bad intention, but because of a lack of strong, independent, operational governance carried out by professionals with real knowledge of the operations. It is in the hands of quality professionals to drive this forward. It is not a function of the compliance department or the finance department, both departments are usually too far removed from the day-to-day to efficiently carry out this operational governance. 

The quality department enjoys a privilege that practically no other department has and that is to be close to the problems. It is a privilege because the seed of innovation lies in the solution of existing problems. It is down to quality professionals to ensure that the problems detected are professionally analysed, and innovative solutions that eliminate or mitigate these problems are provided. Quality professionals may not be in the best position to develop solutions themselves, however, they have the skills to ensure these solutions are correctly identified and implemented instead of being satisfied with adding more control or accepting solutions that lack the innovation necessary to be truly sustainable. 

Finally, we should highlight the leadership skills a quality department must have to ensure all the above points are embedded in the company's management systems. This leadership can only be achieved if quality professionals are reliable partners in the business and this requires continuous improvements in our knowledge. If we are not perceived as professionals with adequate knowledge to have a valid opinion and generate results, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to carry out our mission. 

Quality professionals are committed to leave a better planet for generations to come and have the tools and knowledge to achieve it.