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Consultation – Safety of DC isolators in PV systems

To enhance the safety of direct current (DC) isolators used in solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, particularly for residential homes, ESV has commenced public consultation, inviting submissions on the Enhancing the safety of DC Isolators in PV systems Consultation paper.

Background

The Victorian government is encouraging the generation and use of renewable energy through various policies and programs. The Victorian Government’s Solar Homes Program is a key initiative promoting the uptake of photovoltaic (PV) systems by households. Over 20 per cent of Victorian households have a PV system and more than 140,000 Victorian homes are expected to install new PV systems in the next two years.

While Victoria has a high level of safe PV system installations, the Clean Energy Regulator (CER), Solar Victoria and others have raised some concerns about the safety of wall-mounted direct current (DC) isolators used in PV systems.

The safety issue

A DC isolator is a manual disconnection switch that stops electricity generated by a PV system flowing through the system to make it safe in emergency situations or to allow for servicing and maintenance.

While DC isolators provide additional safety protection, they also introduce additional points of potential failure within a PV system and, in some cases, failure of DC isolators have resulted in fires.

There is now an opportunity to formalise previous ESV guidance recommending the use of inverters with an integrated DC isolator, for all PV systems installations in Victoria, through regulatory action.

Public consultation

ESV is committed to providing an opportunity for the Victorian public to comment on the options presented in the consultation paper. The options proposed that may be readily implemented are:

  • Mandating the use of inverters with integrated DC isolators for all new solar PV systems installed in Victoria.
  • Mandating the installation of wall-mounted DC isolators on a non-combustible surface.

These options are not mutually exclusive and a combination could be used to apply to different situations (for example, new installations versus replacement of an inverter or DC isolator in an existing system).

We are seeking stakeholder feedback on:

  • whether regulatory action needs to be taken;
  • the potential impacts of these options (for example, product and installation costs and market effects); and
  • whether other options should be implemented.

Have your say

ESV invites interested parties to make submissions on the issues raised in this consultation paper.

Submissions must be emailed to neil.jenkins@energysafe.vic.gov.au.

or

Posted to:

Neil Jenkins
Senior Policy Officer
Energy Safe Victoria
PO Box 262
Collins St West VIC 8007

The closing date for submissions is 5pm, 8 October 2021.

Submissions will be treated as public and able to be published on our website unless we are advised that all or part of the submission is confidential.  Where confidential information is provided, we prefer that it is given in a separate document that is clearly marked ‘In Confidence’. In the case of confidential information, ESV reserves the right share this information with DELWP and Solar Victoria.

Next steps

ESV will review and consider all submissions received, as we develop our recommendations for what regulatory action should be taken. If amendments to legislation or regulations are required to implement the recommended approach, we will undertake additional consultation with stakeholders through the regulatory impact statement process.

We anticipate this consultation would occur in early 2022.

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