Opportunity to fortify the solar accreditation scheme

The transition to Solar Accreditation Australia as the new installer accreditation scheme operator provides an opportunity to strengthen safety and quality standards.

Wednesday, 27 March 2024 at 10:00 am

A message from Solar Victoria CEO, Stan Krpan

The Clean Energy Regulator's recent decision to appoint Solar Accreditation Australia (SAA) as the new solar accreditation scheme operator is an important opportunity to fortify accreditation, safety, and quality standards under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES).

As of 29 February, SAA's accreditation scheme has come into effect, marking the conclusion of the Clean Energy Council's (CEC) accreditation services. Solar Victoria swiftly responded by accepting SAA's accreditation as the new minimum requirement for participation in Victoria’s Solar Homes Program.

Solar Victoria congratulates SAA on its appointment and is collaborating with the new operator, its board, leadership team, and the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) to support the transition for existing installers and to expedite the accreditation process for new installers in Australia's rapidly expanding rooftop solar sector.

Installers must transition their CEC accreditation to SAA by Wednesday 29 May to maintain their accreditation, remain eligible for Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs), and to participate in the Solar Homes Program.

Accreditation scheme and Solar Homes

The solar industry demonstrated great leadership and commitment to solar customers and the community when it established the accreditation scheme over 15 years ago.

Since its inception in 2018, Solar Homes has prioritised safety, making accreditation of installers - a mandatory requirement. In addition, Solar Victoria also required all participating installers to be class A electricians. Installer accreditation has been a critical contributor to the success of Solar Homes in setting standards and continuously lifting them.

We know from our customers that they are overwhelmingly satisfied with the service and knowledge provided by installers authorised to participate in our program. Customers report high levels of trust and confidence in the advice given and the quality of their work.

Solar Victoria’s collaboration with regulators and industry bodies since 2018 has significantly improved worker and installation safety in Victoria. Installer accreditation has been pivotal in setting and lifting standards in Australia's rooftop solar sector, in addition to supporting Solar Homes’ objectives by enforcing rigorous qualifications, continuous training and proactive compliance measures.

To supplement the accreditation scheme, Solar Victoria mandated worker safety training and additional requirements in its Notice to Market, applicable to all Solar Homes participants. This collective effort helps uphold the highest standards in the solar industry, setting a benchmark for excellence, safety and reliability that the community can have confidence in.

Independence, collaboration and continuous improvement

We are particularly pleased that SAA has been established as an independent entity governed by a board of directors with diverse experiences and expertise and welcome the appointment of Stephen Robertson as the inaugural chair.

The independence of the new accreditation operator is a critical enabler of a more robust accreditation scheme. It is crucial for the accreditation body to be free to administer the scheme impartially and uphold competency, quality, and safety standards – and when necessary, make tough decisions.

SAA, alongside regulators, will need to balance support for installers with rigorous qualifications and standards, and ensure accreditation inspires confidence. In addition to independence, effective regulators ensure their decisions are transparent and accountable to external scrutiny.

Most importantly, the selection and appointment of a new, independent accreditation body is an opportunity to strengthen oversight of accredited installers and continuously lift and improve standards.

As we embark on this new phase with SAA and the accreditation scheme overseen by the CER, we are optimistic about the potential for continuous improvements in safety, quality, and customer satisfaction.

As an industry, we know we can do better with the challenges that persist, especially as standards, such as the new rules introduced through AS/NZS 4777.2:2020 in 2021, evolve and become more stringent. Our independent audits of Solar Homes installations are highlighting areas still needing attention or rectification to meet requirements in the Australian Standard and Best Practice Guide for Battery Installations, and against safety items in our battery audit checklist. So, we are pleased that SAA is also providing a battery installer accreditation scheme, in recognition of the importance of battery accreditation to the market.

Solar Victoria is committed to collaborating with SAA and the CER to support their new accreditation scheme and administration. By working together, we aim to enhance awareness, knowledge, and professional development to meet and exceed the developing requirements in the solar industry.

Collectively we can make efforts to continuously raise the bar in the interests of solar customers and the community.

Stan Krpan PSM
Chief Executive Officer, Solar Victoria