How To Get Into The Solar Power Game

A photovoltaic system seems a smart choice for powering your home. And it could be a great way to power up your career, too. Want to get into solar but not sure where to start? We’ve got you.

In this Article:
Solar opportunities
Solar PV installation
Solar qualifications
Working safely with solar

While around one in four households in Australia currently enjoy the benefits of rooftop solar, that means there are three in four that don’t, and the opportunities for electricians are obvious. 


The Australian Energy Market Operator estimates more than 10 panels per minute are being installed around the country, when large-scale solar projects are factored in. 

Of course, some places have more potential than others, with Queensland and South Australia leading the nation in rooftop solar. But the highest number of systems installed in 2020 were in NSW. A whole new industry has been created and thousands of sparkies now specialise in solar power. So what to do if you can spot potential in your neighbourhood?


Who can install a solar system?

Although solar systems are not highly complex in the great scheme of things, anyone who wants to install and/or design a standalone power system (SPS) and/or grid connected (GC) solar photovoltaic system must be trained, licensed and accredited long before he or she sets foot on a roof.

The federal government announced back in 2010 that anyone installing solar panels under its Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme is required to be a licensed electrician and accredited by the Clean Energy Council (CEC), the peak body representing Australia’s clean energy sector. So, while it’s not technically a legal requirement, you’re unlikely to get far in the clean energy biz without it. 


How to gain provisional CEC accreditation

CEC accreditation demonstrates competence in design and/or installation of solar PV power systems, you’ll need to do the training. That means you’ll need to complete all the relevant training units including (but not limited to!) installation, deign,
repairs, grid connection and battery storage. There are a number of registered training organisations (RTOs) that offer the units required for accreditation, such as NECA, TAFE and others. You can find out about courses in your state on the CEC website. 

Once you have completed your training, submit copies of your training certificates, public liability insurance, electrical licence and working at heights certificate (see below), make the application payment and all being well you will receive a three-month provisional accreditation. 

“Anyone who wants to install a solar photovoltaic system has to be trained, licensed and accredited long before they set foot on a roof.”


How to gain full CEC accreditation

After getting the provisional accreditation, you then have 30 days to complete an online assessment of your new-found knowledge. Once this has been successfully completed, you’ll receive an accreditation number and can begin working as a CEC-accredited designer or installer. 

Assuming you want to install as well as (or instead of) design, you will also need to complete a practical assessment before your provisional accreditation expires. Once all assessments have been completed, you will be able to upgrade your accreditation online. Accreditation lasts for a year and needs to be renewed annually, with proof that you have kept up to date with changes in the industry.

Safety first

Probably the biggest safety issue for solar installers is that they are always working at heights. Even on a flat roof, the working day is all about the weather and rain and high winds are a serious health and safety issue. All solar installers are therefore required to undergo rigorous working at heights and occupational health and safety training to prevent injury to themselves or others when working on roofs. Approved and regularly maintained fall protection equipment must also be used. 

Check out the extensive range of solar PV products at your local Gemcell Member branch.

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