New body appointed to oversee solar installer accreditation scheme

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Queensland-headquartered Solar Accreditation Australia (SAA) has been approved by the Clean Energy Regulator (CER) as the new operator of the installer and designer accreditation scheme in support of the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES).

The CER said the not-for-profit organisation is a new entity established to carry out its functions independently while being accountable to the regulator. It takes the place of the Clean Energy Council (CEC) which served as the accreditation body for installers and designers over the past decade.

The CER said the CEC’s accreditation services have ceased with SAA’s accreditation scheme now in effect.

Stephen Robertson, Chair of the newly launched SAA, said the announcement is a significant milestone in the commitment to enhancing standards, transparency and accountability across the solar energy sector.

“Today marks the beginning of a new era for Australia’s dedicated and highly skilled solar installers and designers, with the launch of an independent, not-for-profit and single-purpose entity to support compliance and raise standards across the industry,” he said.

“SAA is committed to ensuring integrity, accountability and responsible practices within our industry.”

The regulator said all accredited installers and designers under the SRES must transfer to SAA before June 2024 to remain eligible for small-scale technology certificates (STCs). There is no fee to transfer accreditation with SAA to accept all current CEC accreditation expiry dates and fees paid. If however the accreditation has expired, installers and designers must gain accreditation with SAA to remain eligible for STCs.

SAA said there are no immediate proposed changes to accreditation requirements with professional development completed under the CEC’s accreditation scheme to be recognised for the first 12 months of the new scheme.

CER Renewable Energy Target branch General Manager Matthew Power said the regulator is looking forward to working with SAA to both maintain and continue to improve the training and performance of accredited installers for high-quality installations.

“The small-scale rooftop solar sector has been growing in Australia with 3.1 GW installed in 2023, well up from the 2.8 GW installed in 2022. We believe there is potential for ongoing growth,” he said.

“Consumers and businesses who are increasingly turning to rooftop solar to control their energy bills can remain confident that accredited installers and designers have the necessary training and skills.”

The announcement has been welcomed by industry with Smart Energy Council Chief Executive John Grimes saying it will help to ensure solar designers and installers meet the highest standards of quality, sustainability and service,

“The industry wanted to see a collaborative whole-of-industry approach to accreditation delivered by a separate and independent body,” he said. “That is what SAA is delivering from today to support the federal government’s ongoing commitment to program integrity.”

The CEC did not apply to be an accreditation scheme operator.

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