source: Clean Energy Regulator
Unapproved solar photovoltaic (PV panels) not eligable under the RET
Don't buy or install unapproved modules – you could be the subject of enforcement action
The Clean Energy Regulator has informed us that it is investigating allegations of unapproved solar photovoltaic (PV) panels in the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES).
Information suggests that the imported solar panels look like genuine approved solar panels, but may not meet the appropriate Australian Standards or carry genuine manufacturer's labelling, and may overstate their generation capacity. The panels have not been authorised for sale by the manufacturer in Australia.
For a solar PV system to be eligible for Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs) it must include PV modules that are on the CEC list of approved modules.
To create STCs, the Clean Energy Regulator requires installers to sign declarations within the 'Compulsory written statements for small-scale technology certificate creation' document. These declarations include that the installations comply with the Australian Standards and that the installer understands penalties apply for providing false and misleading information.
- Installers who claim STCs for systems using unapproved modules may be subject to enforcement action by the Clean Energy Regulator, which may lead to criminal charges.
- Installers will also be subject to the CEC compliance procedure and could have their accreditation suspended or cancelled.
- Under Australian Consumer Law it is illegal to mislead consumers on the origin, performance, condition or quality of solar modules. Under the Criminal Code any party complicit in fraud may be charged.
It is important that you take steps to protect yourself from being exposed to installing unapproved panels.
How can you reduce your risks?
To protect yourself and your business from the risk of sourcing, selling and installing unapproved panels, you should:
- Only source panels from reputable suppliers and only install systems for reputable companies.
- Check manufacturers' websites for approved product suppliers/retailers. Products bought through non-approved suppliers may not conform to the IEC certification and may have different warranty conditions.
- Be cautious of unsolicited offers to purchase panels from companies that you do not know.
- Be cautious if offered high quality panels for an unusually low price – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- Ensure model numbers or serial numbers within paperwork are identical to those that were installed.
- Always request written confirmation that the panels you are purchasing or installing are on the CEC approved module list and check the list yourself. Modules may be de-listed without warning if they are non-compliant.
- Avoid panels which may have been intended for research or countries outside of Australia.
- Ensure the label shows the Certifier Mark (logo) corresponding to the certifier on the CEC list.
- Visually inspect panels you purchase or install for any signs detailed above.
- Photograph at least one module serial number, label and box for each installation for your records.
- Refer to technical specification sheets for information on genuine module features available on the manufacturer's website.
- Some manufacturers include trade mark identifications within the module to distinguish the product – see the manufacturer's website.
- Some manufacturers participate in schemes or directly allow module serial numbers to be verified as approved.
Identifying unapproved panels
The CEC is responsible for maintaining the list of approved panels eligible under the SRES. If you are unsure if the panels you are purchasing to sell or install are approved for use you should contact us on 03 9929 4141 for advice.
The following signs may also help identify an unapproved panel:
- The packaging may not be standard or may have been opened.
- The model number on the label may not correspond exactly with that showing on the CEC list.
- The labelling on the boxes may not align with the labelling on the panel.
- The stickers that detail the module features may have been tampered with, replaced or removed or be of a lower quality than usual, or not carry the Certifier Mark.
- The stickers may not be located in consistent locations on the panel or the serial numbers might be of a different range to those of recent batches.
- The appearance of the module, solar cells, frame, and junction box could differ from recent batches of the same product.
- The module may appear to be of lower quality, potentially with higher than normal imperfections.
- Labelling, warranty details, panel class or paperwork may indicate that module is inferior quality.
We will continue to work with industry and the Clean Energy Regulator to consider the issue of unapproved panels and how we can help to protect you and the industry from unknowingly sourcing and installing these panels.
For further information regarding the Clean Energy Regulator's enforcement approach refer to the compliance and enforcement policy available online.