Small-scale system inspections in 2015:
Each year we inspect a statistically significant number of installed small-scale renewable energy systems for compliance with the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme. The inspections program allows the Clean Energy Regulator to monitor the increased installation demand resulting from Renewable Energy Target incentives impacts installation standards.
Our service providers carry out the inspections under section 23AAA of the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000. We have deeds of standing offer in place for inspection services with six providers: Global Sustainable Energy Solutions, Master Electricians Australia, the Australian Solar Council, IT Power, Techsafe and SpringCity. All inspectors hold an unrestricted electrical license in the state or territory where they conduct inspections, as well as Clean Energy Council accreditation.
Most inspections are of solar panels on residential rooftops, with a small proportion of commercial sites and schools also inspected. As required under the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000, we select a statistically significant sample of systems for inspection, typically within 12 months of installation, based on the number of installations for which small-scale technology certificates are created and their geographical location.
All inspection reports are referred both to state and territory electrical safety regulators as well as the Clean Energy Council which manages accreditation of solar panel installers. We are not an electrical safety regulator and have no power to directly require any verification work.
If a Clean Energy Regulator inspector finds an unsafe system, under their state or territory electrical licence they are required to render it safe. They are then required to notify all interested parties of the extent and nature of the safety risk, including the homeowner and the relevant state and territory electrical safety regulator. Any follow up is at the discretion of that state or territory regulator.
The majority of unsafe and substandard installations are attributed to water entry to direct current isolator switch enclosures, and installers failing to ensure that all direct current wiring in the building is enclosed in heavy duty conduit. Both relate to Australian Standards changes, effective from October 2012.
"THE UPTAKE OF COMMERCIAL-SCALE RENEWABLE ENERGY SYSTEMS, AND THEIR SIZE, IS EXPECTED TO GROW IN THE FUTURE."
In February 2015 we convened a meeting of the Renewable Energy Target Inspection Advisory Committee (RIAC) to discuss the previously published results of our inspections with state and territory electrical safety regulators and peak industry bodies. The RIAC agreed that installation practices could be further improved and referred the matter to Standards Australia, and recommended Clean Energy Council installer guidelines should be updated to further improve system safety. The Clean Energy Council guidelines were revised, effective from September 2015.
The inspections program provides useful statistically significant information to electrical safety regulators and peak industry bodies to consider whether current standards and practices are adequate.
* As defined by the Clean Energy Regulator (see Glossary).
Note: Figures based on valid inspection reports first received. Due to the small sample size in any year, these figures should not be extrapolated. We publish total cumulative inspections data on our website.
Graph 4 shows a cumulative summary of results since the inspections program started in May 2011.
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