There are a lot of reasons to enter the solar sector but the rules about continuing education must be taken seriously, writes Clean Energy Council executive general manager installation integrity Sandy Atkins.


It’s not just solar PV system owners who rely on installers acting professionally and sticking to high industry standards. Any poor work only muddies the reputation of the entire industry, which is something we can all do without as Australia slowly continues along the route of replacing dirty power generation with the clean type.

That’s why it’s important to stay right up to date on all the latest changes to solar accreditation. So, here’s a little test for you:

Question 1: You are on a job where you need to install thirteen 300W solar panels with a Fronius Primo 5.0 Aus. What is the rated current of the IES in relation to voltage rise?

Question 2: Based on clause 7.1.4 of the CEC Install Guidelines, answer this question. Unless specified by the CEC system designer, the installer shall not install two parallel strings, connected to the same MPPT input at the inverter, installed on different orientations (such as, east and west). The system designer shall confirm that this arrangement is acceptable … with whom? CEC system designer, the customer, the panel manufacturer or the inverter manufacturer?

These are a small sample of the questions that people new to the industry will need to answer to become accredited with the Clean Energy Council.

Once upon a time we required installers to do three case studies to obtain full solar accreditation.

The case study process was a measure of an installer’s competence and to show they have understood their training by providing some examples of their best work.

It was a simpler time. The process was highly appropriate when there was really only one way to install a grid-connected system (that is, using a central inverter), and when AC coupling was not very common in stand-alone power systems.

The industry has changed massively over the last few years. These days there are many different ways to install a solar power system. You can use micro inverters, DC optimisers and much more. With the added technical complexity and growing diversity of the industry, the old case study process was not able to show that an applicant was able to meet all the competencies that are required. So we changed it to keep pace with the times.

The process for new provisionally accredited installers and/or designers are online fundamental theory assessment, online design assessment and practical installation assessment. This new process will place more emphasis on the design elements of the PV / storage installation.

There are also other benefits from this assessment process. For example, we will be able to provide feedback to the registered training organisations on areas of concern for installers/designers, and they can update their training material accordingly. We can also use this information to run specific webinars or create technical bulletins to assist.

These emerging areas of concern can be used when installers/designers are required to show competency as part of the compliance process. And they are particularly relevant when an installer has been out of the industry for a while (and have deferred their accreditation) and want to get back on the tools. This way they won’t need to do the same training course over again and can prove their competency through a more targeted assessment process.

For more information on the new assessment process, please visit solaraccreditation.com.au

Battery guidelines update

The CEC’s new Battery Installation Guidelines for Accredited Installers are now mandatory (as of November 1) for installers who are accredited for battery installations.

Extensive industry consultation was conducted to ensure the new guidelines cover a more comprehensive range of battery installation methods than the previous document. The expanded guidelines will provide a platform for the safe and high-quality installation of batteries in Australia – something critical for the future of this incredibly promising technology.

These guidelines incorporate the most important clauses of the relevant battery-related standards, such as AS 4086, AS 3011, AS 2676, AS/NZS 4509 and AS/NZS 4777.1.

Additionally, the guidelines apply to:

  • Installing systems operating at both extra-low voltage (ELV) and low voltage (LV);
  • Grid-connected and off-grid applications, and;
  • Installation of battery systems (up to the terminals of PCEs) and preassembled integrated battery energy storage systems.

You can download the new battery installation guidelines from the Solar Accreditation website.

Grid-connect storage endorsement

The battery storage training units have been endorsed and added to the Electrotechnology Training Package. After January 1, all new training must be completed to the endorsed units in order to qualify. To clarify: we will continue to accept training to the draft units which was done before this date. For example, if you completed training to the draft units in 2017, this will be acceptable during 2018. But all training done after January 1 must be done to the endorsed units.

Therefore, if you want to add the storage endorsement to your grid-connect accreditation, it is worth your while to check and make sure your registered training organisation (RTO) is delivering the endorsed training and not still training to the draft units.

We have a list of RTOs who are delivering the endorsed units on the CEC website.

Additionally, if you hold grid-connect accreditation and stand-alone power systems accreditation you can still install grid-connected storage without the endorsement, but you will need to complete the endorsed training units and apply for the endorsement before January 1, 2019.