In a move that will be music to the ears of reputable solar retailers as well as families across Australia, the Clean Energy Regulator has announced it’s developing a national Solar Panel Serial Ledger.
Supporting the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme
The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) is designed to help increase the uptake of solar energy in homes across Australia. Effectively, it’s a subsidy or rebate that makes it cheaper for customers when buying eligible solar systems for their homes.
It is hoped the new recording of all solar panel serial numbers will better support this scheme. Currently, solar installers use a phone app to scan solar panel serial numbers prior to installation. This data is cross-checked against the Clean Energy Council’s (CEC) records to ensure the solar panels are indeed eligible for SRES subsidy. Once confirmed by the CEC, a small-scale technology certificate (STC) is issued so that customers can claim the subsidy.
However, not all solar installers use this Solar Panel Validation (SPV) initiative, so STCs are often created for installations outside of the SPV. The new serial number ledger will provide the CEC additional support in determining whether an STC can be issued, and therefore a subsidy claimed.
The former Solar Panel Validation program
The Solar Panel Validation initiative will continue, and be supported by the new serial number ledger. 48 solar panel manufacturers participate in the SPV, and the initiative has already had a major impact according to the Regulator’s annual report for 2019-20.
To July 2020, more than 50% of STC claims were submitted using SPV, with customers receiving the benefits. Using SPV reduced the STC processing times from 4-6 weeks down to just 24 hours.
Protecting the Australian Market
All of these schemes have been introduced to protect Australian families from dodgy operators and shonky products. Because the solar industry is still in its infancy in terms of regulation, these initiatives are a positive step forward in ensuring access to quality solar panels for all Australian families.
Essentially, if your solar installer tries to install cheap, dodgy solar panels that don’t meet industry standards, those panels won’t show up on the Clean Energy Council’s SPV register. If the solar panels aren’t approved, you won’t be entitled to your subsidy.
So, when choosing a solar provider, be sure to ask if they use approved solar panels that are guaranteed eligible for SRES subsidy.