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21.3.2011 Solar Industry Review

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Many of the larger solar panel (Photovoltaic or PV) projects may not go ahead as the government announces plans to reduce subsidies.  The Department of Energy and Climate Change (  said projects over 50 kilowatts (kW), the equivalent of putting solar panels on around 20 homes will now receive less money. 

Companies carrying out PV installations may find it hard to navigate the standards and codes of practice necessary to carry out installations.   While UK standards apply in general terms, there is still relatively little that specifically relates to a PV installation. Any PV system must comply with Health and Safety Requirements, BS 7671, and other relevant standards and Codes of Practice.

From the beginning the designer and installer of a PV system must consider the potential hazards carefully, and systematically devise methods to minimize the risks. This will include both mitigating potential hazards present during and after the installation phase.

The long-term safety of the system can be achieved only by ensuring that the system and components are correctly designed and specified from the start, followed by correct installation, operation and maintenance of the system.

Consideration of operation under both normal and fault conditions is essential in the design stage to ensure the required level of safety. It is then important to ensure that the long-term safety of the system is not compromised by a poor installation or subsequent poor maintenance. Much of this comes down to the quality of the installation and system inspection and testing regime.

There are two documents that specifically relate to the installation of these systems that are relevant:

  • Engineering Recommendation G83/1 (2003) – Recommendations for the connection of small scale embedded generators (up to 16A per phase) in parallel with public low voltage distribution networks

  • IEE Guidance Note 7 to BS 7671 - Special Locations, Section 12 Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Power Supply Systems (ISBN 0 85296 995 3, 2003)

For further help buying or implementing standards related to PV installations please call 0118 977 8581 for more information.


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