Solar panel audits find faults

STATE Government audits of solar installations are revealing widespread problems in the roll-out of solar energy, NSW Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts says.

Speaking in Lismore, Mr Roberts said audits of solar systems in Port Macquarie had revealed potentially dangerous faults and a pattern of fly-by-night companies set up to take advantage of Federal funding – similar to the ones that so disastrously botched the Commonwealth’s Home Insulation Scheme.

NSW Fair Trading Deputy Commissioner Stephen Griffin said the Port Macquarie audit was done at the urging of the State’s solar industry and revealed 5% of the 55 homes checked had installations that did not meet NSW standards.

The Government had now launched a new, much bigger, audit of homes in south-western Sydney, where there had been a high take-up of solar panels and where there had also been a relatively high number of complaints.

Rainbow Power Company director Paul O’Reilly agreed the audits were being done at the urging of the industry and said he welcomed them.

He said many of the installations failed to make the grade only because standards had changed since installation.

As an example, Mr O’Reilly said 60% of the problems tagged as “high level electrical defects” found at Port Macquarie were actually instruction stickers attached to panels that had fallen out of date since the panels were installed.

“Over the past four or five years, those requirements (on the stickers) have been changing every six months,” he said.

He said a solar panel had never caused a house fire in Australia.

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