Trina Solar Enters Enforceable Undertaking With Clean Energy Regulator

Trina Solar - Clean Energy Regulator

In what appears to be a faux pas rather than an attempt at fraud, Trina Solar (Australia) Pty Ltd has copped a rap over the knuckles for a solar panel certification slip-up.

China’s Trina Solar is a panel manufacturing heavyweight – last year it shipped an estimated 9.7GW of module capacity globally and its panels are quite popular here in Australia.

On Friday afternoon, the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) announced it had accepted an enforceable undertaking relating to any ineligible solar panel serial numbers uploaded by Trina Solar into the Solar Panel Validation (SPV) Service. Any panels with ineligible serial numbers wouldn’t qualify for Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs), i.e. Australia’s “solar rebate“.

There’s nothing at this point to suggest this was a purposeful action on Trina Solar’s part – just a blunder; and Trina has been cooperating with the investigation.

The Undertaking notes:

“The relevant solar panels were ineligible because the relevant panels were either manufactured in facilities that did not hold the proper certification at the time of manufacture or were manufactured to an outdated standard.”

However, word on the street is it was just a case of the wrong factory noted on the approval documentation. If that is the case, how it might affect the final outcome isn’t clear.

Trina Solar has committed to a number of actions in the enforceable undertaking, including:

  • Offering to replace affected solar panels at no cost; whether they have been installed or not. The company will cover all costs associated with replacement.
  • If a solar power system owner declines the offer, Trina Solar will surrender an equivalent number of STCs created.

Where an affected system owner chooses to take up the offer of replacement of panels, Trina Solar will complete this task within 12 months using Clean Energy Council accredited installers. As for those panels already installed and the owner chooses not to have them replaced, Trina Solar will also be required to provide assurance to the Regulator that these panels are safe, of good quality and have the same warranty support.

“Trina Solar has advised the CER that they want to assure the industry and its trading partners the quality and performance of its products are proper and sound and that Trina Solar is working closely with the CER and industry to rectify any STC issues,” states the Regulator.

The company will also be required to undertake compliance testing of panels where the Clean Energy Regulator requests it.

The full text of the enforceable undertaking can be found here.

Affected Solar Panels And Next Steps

At this stage there aren’t any further details of which and how many Trina solar panels may have been affected. According to a related bulletin sent out by the Clean Energy Council on Friday afternoon, Trina Solar is fully responsible for dealing with the situation – not the installer, retailer or any other party; and the company will be providing its supply chain with further details soon. The Clean Energy Regulator says it will also be releasing updates on the situation.

One of the roles of the Clean Energy Regulator is overseeing the integrity of programs under Australia’s Renewable Energy Target, including the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES). It’s good to see the Regulator continuing to earn its keep.

The situation also underscores the importance of the Solar Panel Validation Program, which we’ve written about on multiple occasions here on SolarQuotes. SPV has provided added protection for installers and their customers in this situation, and while an ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure, at least there will be the latter.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. John Torrance says

    Michael,
    If you were considering a solar system today,what combination of solar panels & inverter would you recommend?
    I am at this stage not considering battery storage but would want system enabled for future addition.
    I live in Perth Western Australian and would be keen to speak with certified installers who can also support system with local spare etc should I experience a system failure,particularly with the inverter.(don’t want to have to wait up to 12 weeks for replacement).
    Regards,
    John.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi John, Ronald here.

      Because you are in Perth, the largest system you can install and still receive a solar feed-in tariff is 6.66 kilowatts of panels with a 5 kilowatt inverter. Provided there is room on your roof I recommend getting a system close to this maximum.

      Our Solar 101 Guide has gaphics showing all the panels and inverters we know are reliable:

      https://www.solarquotes.com.au/solar101.html

      Whether or not you should opt for solar hardware that is low cost but reliable or spend extra for premium products for extra peace of mind will depend on your budget and personal preferences.

      If you would like us to send you some quotes from installers we know do quality work and good after sale customer service, you can go to our homepage:

      https://www.solarquotes.com.au/

      And enter your postcode in the space at the top right. Then answer the questions that come up as best you can. If you have any questions, either now or after you get your quotes, please don’t hesitate to ask.

  2. Good Evening, I have Trina solar panels on my roof and have just been advised by Hush Energy the installer that some may need replacing. Where do I stand with this as I am now not convinced that the panels that are not going to be replaced won’t develop the same issue later down the track . We have had the panels on our roof for 7 years and to be honest I have never really thought they were working all that well , but just put it down to maybe we needed a bigger system , we have 26 panels .

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi Karina. The good news is your panels will still be under warranty so you should not be out of pocket for their replacement. You should be covered for the panels and the labour required. Here’s a link to a page on Australian Consumer Guarantees:

      https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/consumer-rights-guarantees/consumer-guarantees

      Since you should not need to pay to have them replaced, there should be no downside to having them replaced. But if you decide to have your old system removed and replaced with a larger new system, then it would be a waste to have them replaced.

      Because your system is 7 years old, even with 26 panels it’s probably not very large by today’s standards. Replacing it with a new larger system will increase your electricity bill savings, but whether or not it will be worth it for you will depend on your specific situation and your personal preferences.

      The good news is, while Trina panels have had some problem in the past, we are confident they are currently reliable panels.

  3. Has anyone had issues with water ingress in TSM-PC05A 250w panels.
    Mine are just 10 years old and have all failed, due to corrosion in the panels. This I would not have expected from a so called tier 1 panel.
    Has Trina recalled them? if not why not

    • Ronald Brakels says

      My understanding is Trina has replaced them under warranty on a case-by-case basis as people make claims. If you’ve attempted to make a warranty claim and Trina has knocked you back, I’d be interested in hearing the details.

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