Nearly 20% of Australia’s PV home systems substandard, watchdog finds

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Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator estimates that up to 200,000 solar panel systems on homes throughout the country may have been improperly installed.

While Australia boasts more than a million homes installed with photovoltaic systems throughout the country, the federal watchdog reckons nearly 20% could be in less than acceptable condition.

The regulator conducted random checks on 7,000 photovoltaic units and determined 19% were substandard and in need of repairs and shut down 4% of the systems on the spot, saying they were found to be unsafe. Based on the review, the regulator estimates that 190,000 systems could be in poor condition and up to 40,000 units possibly posing a danger, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Speaking to a parliamentary committee on the matter, Andrew Livingston, the Clean Energy Regulator’s executive general manager in charge of renewables and carbon farming, said installers had reacted quickly to requests to repair the substandard or unsafe photovoltaic units, the newspaper said. While the watchdog lacks the power to force installers to make the necessary repairs, it can fine the licensed agents who contracted installers for the jobs up to A$3,500 ($3,378, €2,610).

The regulator is currently weighing legal action against installers in five cases, Livingston added.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission received 1,613 complaints about solar systems in 2012, up from 1,229 the previous year, and in addition to grievances made to state-based authorities.