With significant increases in installations of renewables across all types of technologies and sizes,
our agency is stepping up to manage increasing volumes while maintaining service standards. To maintain
integrity in our schemes we must innovate to respond to the pressures of additional volume and
We have invested in industry capability to improve compliance, including innovative new solutions to
verify panel serial numbers and educate industry stakeholders. Further, to cope with higher volumes of
transactions we have enhanced our REC Registry’s capability by streamlining power station accreditation
applications and certificate creation for our Large-scale participants. This has created efficiencies for
our clients and our agency.
In any industry where there is rapid growth, it is important to pay attention to the training and safety
of workers, particularly in the case of electrical safety. We are working with industry bodies and state
and territory governments that manage these safety risks to ensure they are aware of the rapid growth in
renewables so they can respond appropriately.
We recognise that the integrity of the Small-scale scheme can be lifted if industry is encouraged to
adopt best practice in business operations.
Individuals and businesses that install eligible Small-scale systems can create and trade Small-scale
technology certificates. In most cases, they assign the right to create their certificates to registered
agents in return for a discount on the installation of the system.
SRES Smart is an online initiative to increase new and existing registered agents’ competency and
capability to better protect themselves and the scheme before certificates are created.
It includes a series of modules, knowledge checks and a self-assessment tool for applicants to
demonstrate they understand the expected capability and standards of practice necessary to participate in
SRES Smart expands on previously implemented Fit and Proper Person checks and
requirements.34 It provides
our agency with evidence and assurance that registered agents understand their responsibilities.
Registered agents are an important control in the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme, and it is
essential that they understand their role in the scheme and lower their risk of accidental non-compliance
and fraud by third parties.
As required under the legislation, we inspect a statistically significant sample of solar panel systems
that have received incentives under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme. The inspections assess
conformance with the relevant Australian standards, Clean Energy Council guidelines, state and territory
electrical safety standards and scheme eligibility requirements.
Of the 3678 inspections conducted in 2018, 80 were found to be unsafe. This is an unsafe rate of 2.2 per
cent, up slightly from 1.9 per cent in 2017. Common issues detected related to water ingress into
electrical components and identification of products subject to recalls.
Our role is to ensure the integrity of the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme by providing the results
of unsafe and substandard inspections to the relevant state and territory electrical safety regulators that
are responsible for work health and safety for renewables. We also provide this information to the Clean
Energy Council, which manages the accreditation of solar panel installers and approves the key components
While the inspections program delivers outcomes for the sample of solar panel systems we inspect,
industry bodies and electrical safety regulators also leverage the program data to provide national
outcomes such as improving Australian standards, installation guidelines and the education and training of
For example, our inspection data has highlighted issues with some DC isolators. Initially this resulted
in the strengthening of installation guidelines and training in September 2015. As some issues persisted,
regulators and industry bodies continued to take action, recalling specific DC isolators every year from
2014 and introducing a range of more stringent requirements from July 2018. These actions should continue
to improve the quality of installations.
Amendments were made to Clean Energy Regulator Regulations in 2018 that increase our ability to share
data with Commonwealth, state and territory partners. The updated Regulations make it easier for our agency
to disclose vital data, such as battery storage and solar PV system location information, to emergency
services for the purpose of health and safety.
We have continued to work with emergency services and electrical safety regulators. During 2018 we
established an information sharing agreement with seven emergency service organisations across the
We have also worked with solar PV industry bodies including the Clean Energy Council, Smart Energy
Council, Master Electricians Australia, and the National Electrical and Communications Association, to
issue a coordinated message to their members regarding PV installation safety and to develop a battery
In 2018 the Australian National Audit Office conducted a performance audit into the Administration of
the Renewable Energy Target. The audit aimed to provide assurance over the robustness of the Renewable
Energy Target’s operation and achievement of its objectives. The audit concluded we effectively administer
the Renewable Energy Target. The Australian National Audit Office made four recommendations for our agency
We accepted all recommendations and have started work to implement them.
In response to the unprecedented growth in the Renewable Energy Target, we continue to refine and
automate our agency’s controls to adapt and keep pace. In 2018 we released enhancements to the REC Registry
to accommodate the increased levels of certificate activity as we track to 2020.
Our REC Registry is the secure online system for all scheme transactions and enables the market to
operate. We streamlined the Large-scale generation certificate creation process to enable power stations to
enter generation and supporting data directly to the REC Registry. Visibility of the assessment process is
now also available, enabling nominated persons to track the status of their certificate creations.
The enhancements to the REC Registry reduce processing times and allow us to administer our schemes more
We have also enhanced the risk-based approach to the assessment of Large-scale generation certificate
claims, informed by our agency’s operational experience in administering the scheme.
We have developed analytical tools to enhance assessments on claims representing higher risk or that are
randomly sampled. These tools use data visualisation, statistical techniques and incorporate third party
data to provide assurance over the veracity of power station generation data. These tools help to automate
the evaluation of claims and place increased scrutiny over generation data. Anomalies identified during
assessments result in re-evaluation of previous claims to address any under or over-creation of
certificates. This may also result in an increased likelihood of further assessments for future claims.
These changes have seen a significant reduction in the average assessment time for Large-scale
generation certificate claims, while also increasing the integrity of the certificates.
In December 2017, the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Regulations 2001 were amended to introduce a new
exemption certificate method: the electricity use method. This new method calculates exemption based on
electricity consumed by emissions-intensive trade-exposed activities at the site during a calendar year,
rather than the previous production calculation method, which was based on an industry average electricity
intensity factor and an estimate of the year’s production. This allows exemption to be determined more
Most companies have until 2020 to start using the new electricity use method.
The value of exemption certificates under the Renewable Energy Target is approximately $500 million a
year.35 As such, it
is important to be sure of the accuracy and veracity of the exemptions data we assess.
In conjunction with the new electricity use method, we released an online form and new assessment
process to make it easier for companies that apply under the electricity use method.
The online application form is available using our Client Portal.36 This is a
fundamental shift in the way we receive and process exemption certificate applications, which has
previously involved paper-based processing.
In 2018 we released enhancements to the REC Registry to accommodate the increased levels of
certificate activity as we track to 2020.
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