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The transition to Solar Accreditation Australia

    From CEC to Solar Accreditation Australia

    In renewable energy, every step towards sustainability is a milestone towards a cleaner planet. One such pivotal shift is currently underway in Australia, with the transition of certification authority for solar accreditation. For years, the Clean Energy Council (CEC) has been the prominent body overseeing this accreditation. However, a recent development has seen the torch passed to Solar Accreditation Australia. This change carries significant implications for the solar industry and its stakeholders. Let’s explore what this transition means for the future of solar energy in Australia.

    Solar Accreditation Australia

    The Clean Energy Council Era:

    For over a decade, the Clean Energy Council has played a central role in promoting and regulating the solar industry in Australia. The CEC’s Solar Accreditation program has been instrumental in ensuring that solar installers and designers adhere to stringent standards of quality and safety. Under the CEC’s oversight, the solar sector has experienced remarkable growth, contributing substantially to Australia’s renewable energy targets.

    The Rise of Solar Accreditation Australia:

    The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) recognised Solar Accreditation Australia (SAA) as the new installer and designer accreditation scheme operator (ASO) under the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) on February 29, 2024.

    Amidst this backdrop of success, the decision to transition solar accreditation to Solar Accreditation Australia marks a significant turning point. Solar Accreditation Australia, established with a focus on raising industry standards and promoting consumer confidence, brings a fresh perspective to the table. With a mission to streamline processes and enhance transparency, this transition signals a new chapter in the evolution of solar accreditation in Australia.

    Implications and Benefits:

    The transition from CEC to Solar Accreditation Australia is poised to have several implications for stakeholders across the solar industry:

    Streamlined Processes: Solar Accreditation Australia aims to simplify accreditation procedures, making it easier for installers and designers to navigate compliance requirements. This streamlined approach could lead to the adoption of solar technologies and drive market growth.

    Enhanced Consumer Confidence: By emphasising transparency and accountability, Solar Accreditation Australia seeks to bolster consumer trust in solar products and services. Accreditation under this new regime is expected to provide greater assurance to consumers regarding the quality and reliability of solar installations.

    Focus on Innovation: As the solar industry continues to evolve rapidly, there is a growing need to encourage innovation and technological advancements. Solar Accreditation Australia’s emphasis on fostering innovation could pave the way for the development of cutting-edge solar solutions that address emerging challenges and opportunities.

    Global Recognition: With solar energy being a global priority, accreditation standards that align with international best practices are essential. Solar Accreditation Australia could harmonise standards with global benchmarks to enhance Australia’s reputation as a leader in renewable energy and facilitate international collaboration and trade.

    Challenges and Considerations:

    While the transition to Solar Accreditation Australia holds immense promise, it is not without its challenges:

    Adaptation Period: Any transition of this magnitude inevitably entails an adaptation period, during which stakeholders may need to adjust to new processes and requirements. Ensuring a smooth transition will be crucial to minimise disruptions and maintain industry momentum.

    Continuity of Standards: Preserving the integrity of accreditation standards is paramount throughout the transition process. Solar Accreditation Australia must demonstrate a commitment to upholding the same high standards of quality and safety that were synonymous with the CEC’s accreditation program.

    Industry Collaboration: Collaboration among industry stakeholders will be essential for the success of the transition. Establishing clear lines of communication and fostering cooperation between Solar Accreditation Australia, industry associations, and government agencies will be key to overcoming challenges and driving collective progress.

    Accreditation Pathways under Solar Accreditation Australia:

    Solar Accreditation Australia offers multiple pathways for accreditation, catering to the diverse needs of industry professionals:

    Installer Accreditation: This pathway is designed for individuals involved in the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Installer accreditation ensures that professionals possess the necessary skills and knowledge to safely and effectively install solar panels and associated equipment.

    Designer Accreditation: For professionals involved in the design of solar PV systems, designer accreditation is essential. This pathway focuses on ensuring that designers have the expertise to develop efficient and compliant solar energy solutions tailored to the specific needs of customers.

    Battery Storage Accreditation: In addition to solar accreditation, Solar Accreditation Australia offers accreditation pathways for battery storage systems. This accreditation ensures that professionals have the expertise to install and integrate battery storage solutions effectively, enabling homeowners and businesses to maximise the benefits of renewable energy storage.

    Retailer Accreditation: Solar Accreditation Australia also offers accreditation for solar retailers, ensuring that businesses adhere to ethical and professional standards in their dealings with customers. Retailer accreditation demonstrates a commitment to providing high-quality products and services and upholding industry best practices.

    By offering these distinct accreditation pathways, Solar Accreditation Australia caters to the diverse skill sets and roles within the solar and battery storage industries, ensuring that professionals are appropriately trained and qualified to contribute to the growth and success of the sector.

    Types of accreditation

    The different types of solar accreditation offered are listed below: 

    GRID-CONNECTED PHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEMS (GCPV)

    GRID-CONNECTED BATTERY SYSTEMS (GCBS)

    STAND-ALONE POWER SYSTEMS (SPS)

    • Design only
    • Install only
    • Design and Install

    Note for Battery Accreditation:

    Batteries are not covered under the Commonwealth’s SRES Regulatory Scheme. However, due to the continuous rise in small-scale battery systems, notably at the household level, the SAA will apply its Accreditation Scheme specifically to batteries. SAA accepts new applications for battery accreditation (GCBS). It is critical that consumers have confidence that batteries are fit for purpose and installed safely by qualified personnel. In practice, this implies that a person can apply for accreditation for both solar and batteries, but compliance or adherence to the Commonwealth SRES Regulation Scheme is limited to solar. SAA will oversee battery compliance with relevant Australian Standards and state-based safety standards.

    Impact on Industry Partnerships:

    The transition in solar accreditation certification has implications for key industry partnerships:

    Smart Energy Council (SEC): As a leading industry association representing the solar, storage, and smart energy industries, the SEC plays a crucial role in advocating for policies and initiatives that support renewable energy uptake. The transition to Solar Accreditation Australia presents an opportunity for collaboration between the SEC and the new accrediting body to drive innovation and promote best practices in the solar sector.

    Master Electricians Australia (MEA): MEA represents electrical contractors and professionals across Australia and has been instrumental in promoting safety and quality standards in the electrical industry. With the transition to Solar Accreditation Australia, MEA can work closely with the new accrediting body to ensure that electrical contractors involved in solar installations adhere to industry best practices and uphold safety standards.

    The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) offers financial incentives for the installation of small-scale renewable energy systems, such as solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Installers will need to be accredited by Solar Accreditation Australia in order to participate in the SRES and receive customer incentives. As a result, collaboration between Solar Accreditation Australia and the government agencies that administer the SRES will be vital to the scheme’s long-term success.

    CEC, the Clean Energy Council will be performing other roles instead of accreditation. CEC is dedicated to promoting clean energy in Australia through policy and advocacy work. It believes that its members should have a strong voice that helps to influence and accelerate the adoption of sustainable energy sources. CEC also maintains high standards of integrity within the industry and ensures that its members follow the best practices. Some initiatives include maintaining lists of approved modules, inverters, and battery energy storage products, running an Approved Solar Retailer program, developing guidelines, and contributing to the development of Australian Standards.

    Looking Ahead:

    As Australia charts a course towards a more sustainable future, the transition in solar accreditation certification represents a significant milestone in the country’s renewable energy journey. By entrusting Solar Accreditation Australia with the responsibility of overseeing solar accreditation, Australia reaffirms its commitment to fostering a robust and resilient solar industry. With innovation, collaboration, and consumer trust at the forefront, the solar sector is poised to continue its trajectory of growth and transformation, paving the way towards a cleaner, greener future for generations to come.

    Meanwhile, Solar Training at AUSINET remains unhindered. We use proven training methods and the wherewithal to get you ready for a career in Solar. Please contact us at support@ausinet.com.au for your queries. We’ll be happy to hear from you. Cheers!