April 11, 2019
A new Code of Practice and electrical safety regulations will begin next month to enhance safety in the growing commercial solar farm industry.
The Construction and Operation of Solar Farms Code of Practice 2019 (922kb PDF) comes into effect on May 13.
Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said the Code, in conjunction with a new regulation, meant mounting, locating, fixing and removal of solar panels at solar farms can only be undertaken by licensed electricians.
She said stakeholders had raised concerns about unlicensed workers mounting and removing live solar panels.
“These new regulations are all about ensuring we keep pace with new and emerging technologies and keep workers safe,” Ms Grace said.
“Solar panels generate power as soon as they are exposed to light and cannot be isolated while they are being mounted.
“Workers are at risk from electrocution and fires if solar panels are not properly earthed during installation.
“Removing panels can be even more dangerous. These are not jobs for unlicensed workers.”
The Code of Practice provides guidance to ensure safety at solar farms throughout their life cycle, including design, construction, operation and maintenance, and de-commissioning.
It consolidates existing electrical and work health and safety requirements for solar farms.
It includes information on what does, and does not, constitute electrical work and how designers, constructors and operators can comply with their existing safety duties.
It covers design of a solar farm to ensure:
Other areas include:
The Code and Regulation apply to all solar farms, including new and existing solar farms, with total rated capacity of at least 100kW that are, or will be, operated as a business.
This approach will ensure there is a level playing field for all participants and new entrants to the solar farm market, irrespective of the design or system used, and that consistent safety measures are adopted.
The requirements only affect commercial solar farms and not residential solar installations or other renewable technologies.