Unapproved Solar Panels In Clean Energy Regulator’s Crosshairs

Non-compliant solar panels - Australia

CER crackdown on non-compliant solar panels

The Clean Energy Regulator has announced it is targeting installations of unapproved solar panels for which STC’s have been claimed – and has already taken its first scalp.

In order to be eligible for Australia’s “solar rebate“, which is based on Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs), solar power systems must use Clean Energy Council approved solar modules.

The Regulator flagged earlier this year that among its priorities for 2017, it would carry out enhanced monitoring of the integrity of claims for STCs, using sophisticated statistical and network analysis.

“The Clean Energy Regulator takes fraud and deliberate non-compliance seriously and takes necessary action to ensure the integrity of the scheme,” says the agency.

Its first related action since has been in relation to P & N NSW Pty Ltd (registered business name: “Euro Solar“).

The Clean Energy Regulator states:

“P & N NSW Pty Ltd improperly created, in contravention of section 24 of the REE Act, 1058 Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) from 10 installations of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels that were non-compliant.”

The systems identified as having unapproved panels were installed in Western Australia, New South Wales and South Australia.

Among a number of enforceable undertakings agreed to by P & N NSW Pty Ltd,  the company will implement a compliance program, surrender 1,058 STCs created from the 10 installations and replace the solar panels. Furthermore, the company will voluntarily surrender all STCs where other unapproved panels are identified and have all panels in affected systems replaced by a CEC-accredited installer.

P & N NSW Pty Ltd will also report to the Clean Energy Regulator monthly and not attempt to deregister as a company without the Regulator’s approval.

The full list and details of enforceable undertakings can be found here.

The crackdown on unapproved panels will be welcomed by many in Australia’s solar industry as it helps to maintain the integrity of the Small Scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) and creates a more level playing field, while also protecting consumers.

Solar Panel Validation Project

In related news, last month the Clean Energy Regulator announced it had partnered with the solar industry and peak bodies on the Solar Panel Validation Pilot; which consists of a mobile application for installers and a database of verified information for solar panels.

The pilot aims to provide an easy way to check whether solar panels are genuine and approved. Validation will reassure consumers they are receiving products that meet Australian standards and provide confirmation for installers that they are installing the right panels. It will also lower the risk of fraud to agents, protect retailers from penalties and damage to their reputation, and will enable all stakeholders to help uphold the integrity of the SRES.

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.

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