Australia: Four percent of installations "unsafe"

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The safety concerns stemmed from installations where water could enter the system of wires were left exposed. A further 20 percent of installations were deemed to be "sub-standard".

The growth in residential solar systems in Australia has been rapid. In 2010, 95,000 systems were installed and thus far in 2011, 205,000 have gone up. However, confidence in photovoltaic systems has been undermined by reports of poor installations practices.

The Office of the Renewable Energy Regulator (ORER) carried out the inspection program and the worrying results were part of an initial program of 387 safety inspections. 41 inspectors have been employed under the program and it hopes to carry out 1,500 inspections this year.

Renewable energy regulator Christopher Branson has said that a sample of 387 inspections were not sufficient to draw wider conclusion about specific installers. However the installations deemed "unsafe" have been shut down.

The Australian Federal Government is particularly wary of unsafe residential installations after a previous insulation program it funded led to poor installation safety controls and a number of roof fires and electrocution deaths.

The November edition of pv magazine has a feature article about the photovoltaic industry in Australia.