Before installing a commercial solar power system, businesses need to comply with various requirements and obtain approvals. These include development approval, building consent, and environmental assessment.
Network connection approval is also necessary, along with using Clean Energy Council-approved products and engaging certified system designers and installers. Larger systems may require registration as a power station.
Additionally, businesses must adhere to Australian Standards, electrical safety codes, and AEMO performance standards. Obtaining a certificate of electrical compliance, conducting a structural integrity assessment, and a roof safety assessment are crucial steps.
A work at heights risk assessment is also essential. Compliance with these requirements is vital to avoid delays, fines, or system removal.
The complexity and fees associated with these approvals may vary based on the location and system size, making professional guidance highly beneficial.
Compliances before installing a commercial solar system
As the world becomes more aware of the issues associated with climate change, businesses are looking at reducing and minimising their carbon footprint. A method in which companies are attempting to minimise their footprint is by purchasing and installing solar onto their commercial buildings. If this is you, several compliance requirements, standards, regulations and approvals must be considered before installing commercial-size solar power systems on large roofs. Some of these requirements differ between States and Territories and between electricity distribution network service providers.
It is essential to comply with the following requirements to avoid delays, fines, switching off, or even removal of the system.
Development approval, building consent, and environmental assessment
These approvals are essential to ensure that the project complies with local zoning laws, building codes, and environmental regulations. The process may require detailed site plans, environmental impact assessments, and consultation with local authorities. By demonstrating that the solar system will not negatively impact the community or environment, you will need to obtain the necessary permissions to proceed.
Network connection approval
Connecting your solar system to the grid requires approval from the local utility company or grid operator. This ensures that your system’s integration with the grid is safe and adheres to performance standards. This stage often involves technical assessments and can require changes to the system design to meet the utility’s specifications.
Only use Clean Energy Council- (CEC) approved products
Selecting products approved by the Clean Energy Council ensures they meet Australian standards for safety and performance. Utilising CEC-approved products can give you access to government rebates, as non-approved components will simply not qualify. These approvals will also guarantee that the large-scale PV system will function efficiently and safely.
Appropriate certification of system designer and installer
Hiring certified designers and installers is essential for ensuring that the solar system meets all regulatory standards. Certified professionals have demonstrated knowledge and expertise in designing and installing solar systems, ensuring a high-quality project that complies with Australian standards.
Registration as a power station for larger systems
For commercial solar systems that exceed a certain size, registration as a power station might be necessary. This process can involve additional regulations and oversight, reflecting the system’s increased complexity and potential impact on the grid.
Compliance with various Australian Standards
Compliance with national and regional standards ensures that the solar system meets minimum safety and performance requirements. It involves following detailed technical guidelines covering every aspect of design, installation, and operation, thus ensuring that the system is reliable and safe.
Compliance with electrical safety codes
Meeting electrical safety codes is paramount for the protection of workers and the public. This includes proper grounding, circuit protection, and other safety measures. Compliance ensures that the system operates without posing a risk of electrical accidents.
AEMO performance standards
Compliance with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) standards ensures that the system’s performance aligns with the broader energy market’s needs and regulations. These standards may include frequency control, voltage regulation, and other technical requirements.
Certificate of electrical compliance
Obtaining this certificate requires an inspection by a licensed electrician/inspector to confirm that the installation adheres to all relevant electrical standards and codes. It’s a critical step to certify that the system is installed correctly and safely.
Structural integrity certificate
This certificate verifies that the structures supporting the solar panels, such as the roof or ground mounts, are strong enough to bear the load. An engineer may need to assess the site to ensure that it can safely support the solar system for the duration of its life.
Roof safety assessment
If the system is being installed on a roof, a safety assessment ensures that the roof can bear the weight and that the installation process itself will be safe. It includes evaluating access, fall protection, and other safety concerns related to working at heights.
Work at heights risk assessment
Installing solar panels often requires working at heights. This step involves assessing the risks and implementing measures to protect workers. This might include using specialised equipment, implementing safety procedures, and ensuring that all workers have the necessary training and certifications.
Each of these steps plays a crucial role in ensuring that the commercial solar system is designed, installed, and operated in a manner that is safe, efficient, and compliant with all relevant regulations and standards.
Some of these approvals and processes incur fees or require the use of specialist experts. It is essential to understand that depending on where you are located and the size of your solar system will determine what approvals are required for your solar system.