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PV Modules Standards Change

A change to approved PV modules is coming into effect soon and its important the industry is ready. From 1 October 2024, all new solar installations will need to use modules that meet 2021 standards, unless an extension has been formally granted by the Clean Energy Council.

New products standards like these involve a big change in the industry, which is why we set a long transition period of 14 months. From May until mid-July, we accepted extension requests, which have been assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Manufacturers, installers, retailers and those involved in the provision of PV modules in Australia should read the information below to ensure they’re ready.

Important information

Manufacturers: get your products certified. All PV modules must be certified to the 2021 version of the IEC 61215 Standards and have documentation submitted to the CEC before 1 October 2024 to remain on the product list.

Importers, retailers and stock-keepers:

  • No additional 2016 stock should be purchased unless you are certain it can be installed prior to 1 October 2024 or the expiry date on the CEC list.
  • PV modules not qualified for the updated standard and listed as CEC approved will not be eligible for STCs and state/territory rebates after this date.
  • Talk to your manufacturers to understand if they are applying for product approvals that align with 2021 standards.

Please note extension requests closed on 15 July 2024.

Preparing for the change

If you are a manufacturer or agent acting on behalf of manufacturers

  • You must apply for re-certification as soon as possible, as this process can take up to three months. Once recertified, you must submit your application to the CEC with a valid certificate for PV modules to remain on the CEC Approved Products list that will be effective 1 October 2024 as per IEC 61215:2021.
  • Work closely with your supply chain to clear obsolete stock when importing PV modules certified to IEC 61215:2016. No additional stock should be imported unless you are certain it can be installed prior to the cut-off date. Be aware of the implication for any state and territory rebate or incentive schemes.
  • PV modules approved to IEC 61215:2021 will have a (IEC 61215-2021) suffix on the CEC listing. This is for CEC listing purposes only. Manufacturers are not required to print the suffix on labels or on manufacturer documentation.

If you are importer, retailer, installer or stock-keeper

  • You must continue to clear existing stock certified to the 2016 version of IEC 61215. No additional stock should be imported or purchased unless you are certain it can be installed prior to the expiry date.
  • If you are exploring options to manage 2016 stock, talk to your agents and manufacturers to understand whether they have applied for an extension. Check the expiry date of your modules here.
  • PV modules certified to IEC 61215:2021 will have a (IEC 61215-2021) suffix on the CEC listing. This is for CEC listing purposes only. Manufacturers are not required to print the suffix on labels or manufacturer documentation.
  • If the PV Module label shows the PV Modules are compliant to the 2016 version of IEC 61215 - these must be installed before the CEC listing expiry date for the 2016 version. If unsure, please contact your supplier/PV module manufacturer.
  • Electrical workers in various jurisdictions must ensure that the products installed are compliant with the electrical safety legislation specific to each jurisdiction. If you have concerns about the acceptability of a product, you should seek clarification from the local regulator.

Extension requests

Extension request applications closed on 15 July 2024

From 3 May 2024 to 15 July 2024, we encouraged those manufacturers and retailers who needed more time to apply for an extension beyond the 1 October deadline.

We received 82 extension requests and have approved 58 of these, as at 16 July 2024. These extensions are now reflected in the expiry dates on the product listing. Outstanding extension requests will be processed by 31 July 2024.

Understanding the standards change

The process of the standards change

  1. When AS/NZS 5033:2021 was published and became mandatory in May 2022, it brought changes to the requirements for solar panels (PV modules) used in Australia and New Zealand (Clause General). These changes aimed to align with international standards set by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
  2. In most cases, following publication of Australian Standards for installation, the electrical safety regulators across the country adhere to the published six-month transition period, where either the current published version or the version being superseded can be followed (but not combinations of both).
  3. When AS/NZS 5033:2021 refers to another Standard, it does not typically give a year for that Standard. However, in these situations legislation considers the most recently published versions to be the ones that are required.
  4. After consultation with various regulatory bodies and testing labs, we believed that a six-month transition did not provide industry with suitable time to implement these changes. It was decided that it would be in the best interest of the renewable energy industry in Australia to implement an unofficial transition period whereby the CEC would monitor and communicate with testing labs and help them prepare for change
  5. In August 2023, after we confirmed that a significant amount of testing labs had updated their scope of works and were actively testing to the newer standards, we made our first announcement to the industry, giving 14 months’ notice of the standards change.
  6. We have been in discussion with regulatory bodies and the chairs of the relevant Standards committee over the last couple of months, seeking the best way to facilitate changes to referenced standards in the future. We have already submitted a proposal to the chairs of the Standards committee seeking an update to the relevant standards to ensure the industry does not experience similar challenges for future standards changes.
    1. The initial proposal is to adopt referenced IEC standards to AS/NZS IEC versions and amend the relevant standards (AS/NZS 5033 in relation to PV, but also AS/NZS 4777 series in relation to Inverters, and AS/NZS 5139 in relation to Batteries) to reference the AS/NZS IEC versions as an option alongside the IEC versions.
    2. This would enable the transition to a ‘new’ version to start as quickly as it currently can and allow overlap within the prescriptive standard until the standards committee updates the AS/NZS IEC version, which could then include a transition period agreed by the standards committee.
    3. Alternate options were also included in the proposal, in case this is considered unmanageable, in order to facilitate the best change possible.
    4. We have been advised that the process of amending standards in this way would take months at least and likely one to two years.

Applicability of local electrical safety legislative requirements

State electrical safety acts or regulations specify that AS/NZS3000 must be adhered to, and AS/NZS3000 in turn specifies that AS/NZS5033 must be adhered to.

Clause 7.3.2 of AS/NZS 3000 mandates that in scope PV module installations must comply with AS/NZS5033. In turn, section 4.3 of AS/NZS 5033 states that modules used in the installation must be qualified to IEC 61215.

The electrical safety regulators have the power to bar modules that are not compliant with the current standard from being installed in their state or territory, meaning that an extension would have no effect in their jurisdiction. By AS/NZS 5033 not referencing a dated version of the IEC, regulators must interpret that the current version is required for compliance with electrical safety legislation.

Industry communication

  • We notified manufacturers and agents of the change in August 2023, October 2023 and March 2024
  • Our website was updated to alert industry of this change since August 2023
  • The CEC Product list was updated in August 2023 where product expiry dates were updated. Stock purchasers are expected to check the expiry of the module prior to purchasing the product.
  • Our newsletters actively promoted this upcoming change
  • In late March/early April 2024 we undertook two surveys to gauge industry preparedness.
  • We also consulted industry between March and April 2024
  • We confirmed the transition plan on first week of May 2024 with regular communication following this.
  • On 3 May 2024 the CEC confirmed the 1 October 2024 deadline and introduced extension requests which were promoted in emails and social media posts.
  • On 15 July 2024, applications for extension requests were closed for application.

We are here for you

We are committed to supporting you throughout this transition process as best as we can. For any questions regarding the transition process please contact the CEC Products Team at [email protected].