Regulator tightens net against rooftop solar non-compliance and fraud

Solar industry stakeholders will work with the Clean Energy Regulator to develop a new serial number ledger designed to further safeguard the federal government’s Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme while also making it easier for users to assess their eligibility.

The new ledger was announced by the CER on Monday, as a mechanism to store all solar panel serial numbers supplied to the Australian market and eligible for the small-scale technology certificates, or STCs, issued under the SRES.

The CER said that panel serial numbers would be provided to the agency by Australian local manufacturers and panel importers on the Clean Energy Council (CEC) approved PV module list.

This data would then be used to assess eligibility of STC claims by cross referencing serial numbers in STC claims with serial numbers in the ledger.

The new measure comes on top of the existing Solar Panel Validation (SPV) initiative, which gives solar supply chain representatives early confirmation of solar panel eligibility before and at the time of installation.

The CER said the serial number ledger would provide a secondary point of verification during the creation of STCs, and enable the agency to differentiate solar panel serial numbers provided by authorised suppliers and potentially non-authorised suppliers.

“This will also assist our compliance activities including the identification of data anomalies between agency, SPV and manufacturer/importer datasets,” the CER said in a statement.

In the final quarter of 2019, the CER took action against three solar installation companies for non-compliance and fraud within the SRES, for the misuse of CEC accredited installer details and use of non-approved panels.

In its compliance update covering the period from October 01 to the end of December in 2019, the CER said it was taking a “zero tolerance” approach to the fraudulent creation of small-scale technology certificates, or STCs.

This week, the CER noted that the new ledger would have some benefits for industry, on top of tightening the net against dodgy installers.

For panel manufacturers, the CER said, the new ledger would help to remove risk to their brand from non-authorised suppliers bringing potentially ineligible solar panels to the Australian market that could be used in STC claims.

For manufacturers and installers, the new measure should reduce the need for the CER to make individual requests for additional information about solar panel serial numbers to assess eligibility.

“In the coming weeks we will contact stakeholders to co-design two key aspects of the ledger: the data format and the mechanism to upload the data,” the CER said.

“If you have any questions about the development of the ledger capability please contact us on 1300 553 542 or by email at enquiries@cleanenergyregulator.gov.au.”

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