Australia announces enhanced safety rules for solar panels

The new regulations include:

  • To be eligible for Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), installations must now comply with state and territory regulations for siting panels and building codes, including for panel mountings and connection;
  • Installers must be both Clean Energy Council (CEC) accredited and licensed electricians, with the exception of some remote non-grid connections; and
  • Requiring installers of solar panels to retain documentation of how they have met the above requirements.

The requirement to be a licensed electrician, which is already part of the CEC accreditation requirements, will now be an explicit requirement for the RET and its compliance regime. If these requirements are not met, installers will face penalties such as fines, injunctions, ineligibility to create RECs or criminal charges, the government said.

"Solar panels allow householders to play their part in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions," Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Senator Penny Wong said. "The government takes safety for solar PV very seriously and these additional measures will further strengthen safety arrangements for solar panels supported by the Renewable Energy Target."

Senator Wong added that the enhanced RET, currently before the Senate, also includes a number of new compliance measures such as civil penalties, tougher financial penalties and more stringent documentation requirements to prove compliance. The RET Bills were introduced on 12 May 2010 and the Government is committed to passage of the legislation before Parliament rises.

She continued: "The amendments give the Renewable Energy Regulator more power to use against people that do the wrong thing, including breaches of safety requirements."