Controversial new rules that call a halt to the Queensland commercial and utility-scale solar energy sector have quietly become law this week, despite the not so silent pleas to the state government to reconsider the move.
And apart from threatening to derail companies, you blow project timelines away, you increase project costs by as much as 20 percent and you cause a great loss of jobs, they are really very foolish.
The amending regulation 2019 for electrical safety (solar farms) requires – from Monday – that solar panels be mounted, installed, attached and removed for projects of 100 kW or more in order to be carried out only by qualified electricians.
In breaking the rules, the Queensland Government has argued that they are needed to ensure the safety of workers and other people during the construction and operation of solar farms.
As we have reported, the solar industry has strongly and almost universally disagreed with the argument that the change is neither necessary nor feasible – where will all these licensed electricians be located? – and will increase costs and blow out schedules for existing projects, while others become completely unattainable.
So far, the government has refused to meet with the solar industry to discuss these concerns, but has instead made several minor adjustments to the increasingly shocking guidelines on its WorkSafe website.
"There are many tasks that can be performed by an assistant (such as a trade assistant or a general worker) who is not a licensed electrician," the document says, to reassure businesses and local governments about the impact on jobs. in regional Queensland.
But what follows, reads something like a Monty Python script and would be funny if there wasn't that much at stake.
The first point of confusion: who can mount, locate, repair and remove solar panels on large solar panels in Queensland?
Originally this was pretty clear in the new rules: only electricians with a full permit. The guidelines now state that electrical learners can also do these things, and that also applies to the holder of a permit for electrical work training … but only under the strict supervision of a qualified electrician.
So not much changes there.
The second major point of confusion is what other employees, such as trade assistants (TA & # 39; s) or general workers, can do if they can no longer assemble and repair panels – which would usually do most of their work on a commercial scale shapes or solar parks project.
According to the guidelines, they can unpack PV panels, carry them around the site, carry them to the "point of location" and even pass them on directly to the qualified electrician.
In addition, they can "support" a panel for the electrician – or help make it old where it is mounted on the mounting structure – but only "at the same time as the qualified electrician locates, assembles, and repairs the solar panel on the PV matrix structure. "(Their emphasis)
What they CANNOT do is fix the bolts. "The authorized Trading Assistant or General Worker cannot perform locating, mounting, and mounting tasks such as using a rattle gun to mechanically connect the panel to the PV array structure."
So, basically, if the panel is near the mounting structure, don't touch it unless an electrician touches it, and don't even think about using the rattle rifle. Clearly?
Not really, the answer seems to be.
As a solar developer put it, these & # 39; clarifications & # 39; on the government website only & # 39; to emphasize once again how poorly composed, poorly thought out and urgently these changes are & # 39 ;.