What is the Solar Panel Validation Initiative?
The Solar Panel Validation Initiative (SPV) was created by the Australian government and solar industry, to protect customers from counterfeit and low-quality products.
According to the Clean Energy Regulator, 20% of Australian homes are using solar panels, surpassing any other country in terms of percentage. However, not all solar panels you will find in the market offer high quality, and deficient products bring several issues. The following are some of the problems you may have:
- The solar power system may not achieve the power bill savings you expect.
- Solar panels and other components may start to fail in a very short time, without any warranties to protect your investment.
- Electrical faults are more likely, and the system may start a fire that damages your home.
The Solar Panel Validation Initiative (SPV) was created by the Australian government and solar industry, to protect customers from counterfeit and low-quality products. Using technology, the SPV initiative prevents the use of deficient products in solar installations that benefit from the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme. The SPV has been available since July 2018, and many solar retailers have already joined the initiative – including Instyle Solar.
How the Solar Panel Validation Initiative works
Thanks to the SPV initiative, homeowners and retailers can ensure that all the solar panels they use meet three important requirements:
- Being covered by solid manufacturer warranties.
- Compliance with Australian standards.
- Eligibility for Small-scale Technology Certificates, which act as a financial incentive.
Using a smartphone app, installers can check that all solar panels are verified before using them in a project. The app scans all their serial numbers, which are sent to a verification platform in real time. The system will respond with a confirmation if all the panels are genuine, or a warning if any of them has not been verified.
If you are about to purchase a home solar system, you can ask the installer to scan the panels with you. This way, you can be 100% sure that all panels are original and eligible for incentives, and the installer can also provide the following information:
- Make and model of your solar panels
- Serial numbers
- Time and date of validation
- Reference number
Additional recommendations from the Clean Energy Regulator
In addition to verifying your solar panels, the Australian Clean Energy Regulator provides the following recommendations:
- Size your solar panel system according to your electricity consumption: You can check your latest power bills directly, or you can estimate consumption with the government’s Energy Made Easy tool, based on your postcode and the number of residents in your home.
- Make sure that all financial aspects are clarified: Ask exactly how your solar power system will be paid, and also how the available solar incentives will be applied. You should also ask your electricity provider if there are any changes in your tariff after going solar.
- Find a Clean Energy Council Approved Retailer, like Instyle Solar: CEC Approved Solar Retailers are subject to a Code of Conduct, where one of the most important requirements is providing clear and accurate information.
CEC Approved Solar Retailers must also meet other requirements, which include: providing a five-year warranty in addition to any manufacturer warranties, not having any pending issues with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), having at least 12 months of operation, and passing an audit from an external agency.
Small-scale Technology Certificates or STCs are a great incentive for solar power systems below 100 kW. For example, a 10-kW solar installation in Brisbane can get 138 STCs as of 2021, which are converted into a rebate of around $5,200 – $5,400. However, you must use solar products that have been approved by the CEC, and the solar system must be installed by a CEC Accredited Installer – otherwise, you miss the incentive!
The SPV initiative ensures that all installations with the STC incentive use original solar panels. By scanning the panels onsite before installing them, solar companies can make sure that no counterfeit products are used.
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