Regulations and Licenses for Solar PV Installers on the cards
INSTALLERS of solar energy systems at household and commercial level shall require licenses to operate as part of measures aimed at improving service delivery and to protect consumers from substandard workmanship in the wake of increased uptake of renewable energy technologies.
This is contained in the draft Electricity (Solar Photovoltaic Systems) Regulations being proposed by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA).
The proposed regulations, which apply to solar photovoltaic (PV) system manufacturers, importers, vendors, technicians, contractors, system owners, a solar PV system installation and consumer devices are provided for under section 65 of the Electricity Act [Chapter 13:19].
The licences will be issued in a four-tier system depending on the applicant’s ability and competence to handle capacity of the system in terms of wattage and voltage.
The entry level, Class ST1, is for solar PV technicians qualified to design, install, commission, maintain, and repair solar PV systems with a single inverter, single charge controller, single or multiple solar PV modules not more than 400 watts.
The highest level is Class ST4, which is for technicians who are able to design, install, commission, maintain, and repair grid-tied or hybrid or solar water pumping systems with installed capacity of at least 50kW.
The regulations are in line with global trends of enhancing quality and safety services for consumers.
These regulations will be a relief to consumers as there will be a pool of highly qualified and duly registered installers who will give value for money, safe and reliable service.
Solar PV electrical wiring at domestic and commercial level requires qualified personnel as any mishap can be fatal and costly hence the need for licensing.
ZERA has in recent years provided training for 270 solar PV installers in order to capacitate the sector.
A list of licensed installers will be published on the ZERA website and technicians who violate the licence conditions will be blacklisted, their license being revoked, cancelled or pay a prohibitive fine.
ZERA is conducting public consultation on the regulations and individual technicians, professional and consumer bodies are expected to submit their comments within 30 days. The deadline for submission of comments is 30 September 2020.
Other countries that have similar regulations include Kenya, Australia and United Arab Emirates.
Zimbabwe’s vision is to ensure increased access to modern energy for all by 2030 and renewable energy sources such as solar are expected to play a significant role in catalyzing the uptake.