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Renewable Energy Class licence Q&As

Answers questions for licensed electrical inspectors about inspecting renewable energy installations.

Overview

On 5 April 2024, Energy Safe Victoria introduced a new Renewable Energy Class of licence for licensed electrical inspectors (LEIs).

What types of electricity generation systems are covered by the RE Class licence?

The Electricity Safety (Registration and Licensing) Regulations 2020 (The Regulations), Schedule 2 specifies the classes of electrical inspection work. The RE Class of electrical inspection work is described as electrical installations that are either:

  • electricity generation systems including any wiring systems, switchgear, controlgear or accessories installed to provide control or protection to those generation systems (excluding stand-alone power systems with a power rating that is less than 500 voltamperes)
  • a battery system including any associated wiring systems, switchgear, controlgear and accessories.

The Regulations do not specify the fuel type for the electricity generation systems. Therefore electricity generation systems fuelled by renewable energy sources, petrol/diesel, or other fuel sources are all included in the electricity generation systems as described in the RE Class LEI licence.

The Regulations contain the following relevant definitions:

  • electricity generation system means an AC electricity generation system or a DC electricity generation system.
  • AC electricity generation system means an electricity generation system (other than a battery energy storage system) that has a nominal operating voltage exceeding 50 volts alternating current.
  • DC electricity generation system means an electricity generation system (other than a battery energy storage system) that has:
    • a nominal operating voltage or open circuit voltage exceeding 50 volts direct current
    • an individual or combined rated generation capacity equal to or greater than 240 watts.
  • battery energy storage system has the same meaning as 'battery energy storage system BESS' has in AS/NZS 5139.
  • battery system means a battery or battery energy storage system that has:
    • a nominal operating voltage exceeding 12 volts direct current
    • an individual or combined rated storage capacity equal to or greater than one kilowatt hour.

An existing switchboard with an existing electricity generation system or battery system connected to (or within the switchboard) is going to be upgraded. Does the inspection of the upgraded switchboard require a G Class or RE Class LEI to inspect the upgraded switchboard?

A G Class LEI can inspect a switchboard upgrade if the electricity generation system or battery system components were existing on the switchboard prior to the upgrade (in other words, not a newly installed electricity generation system or battery system as part of the upgrade). The G Class LEI is responsible to ensure all the upgraded switchboard, including arrangements and labelling relevant to the electricity generation system or battery system components, are compliant.

The G Class LEI is responsible for ensuring they are competent to carry out the inspection.

A stand-alone system incorporates solar PV and battery with an interactive internal combustion engine generator. Would an inspection of this system require inspection by someone with the full RE Class licence, or will one of the conditional RE Class licences suffice?

This installation will require inspection by an LEI with the full RE Class licence – in other words, licensed to inspect both the renewable generation systems and internal combustion engine generation systems. A conditional licence (‘RE restricted to internal combustion engines’ or ‘RE excluding internal combustion engines’) is insufficient.

Does an inlet socket for an electricity generation system fall under the conditional RE (restricted to internal combustion engines) licence?

Noting the inlet socket could be connected to a number of different sources, including internal combustion engines, electric vehicles, wind generators via batteries and inverter, or a UPS battery system. The source may not be known, or evident at the time of inspection.

The inlet socket and changeover switch could be relevant to a multitude of sources of supply. As such, the LEI must hold an RE licence, however the full RE licence or either of the conditional RE licences (either ‘RE restricted to internal combustion engines’ or ‘RE excluding internal combustion engines’) are acceptable.

New inspection – a main switchboard includes an electricity generation system that may include a changeover switch or safety services supplied by the electricity generation system. Can a G Class LEI carry out the inspection of the new main switchboard?

Yes, the G Class LEI can inspect the switchboard, however they cannot inspect the changeover switch or any electricity generation system.

As such, if a G Class LEI carries out the inspection of the switchboard, the electricity generation system supply must be isolated. The changeover switch must be positioned for normal supply only. This process will allow for the initial connection to supply. The inspection of the electricity generation system, (including any changeover switch), must be done by a RE Class LEI.

Safety services supplied by the electricity generation system can be inspected by a G Class LEI, as this inspection is not dependent on the type of supply.

The Certificate of Electrical Safety (COES) must accurately record the work completed and inspected. As such, if two individual inspectors are used (in other words a G Class LEI for the initial switchboard inspection to enable connection to supply, and a RE Class LEI for the electricity generation system inspection), two COES will need to be issued, each with the relevant work applicable to the two inspections.

The LEI must ensure the details on the COES are complete, accurate and legible.

How will inspections carried out around the changeover date (5th April 2024) be handled?

If an inspection is allocated to an LEI on ESVConnect prior to the 5th April 2024, they may carry out the inspection under their existing G Class licence. From 5th April 2024 onwards, the ESVConnect system will not permit an LEW to allocate a Type 5 inspection to an LEI who does not hold the relevant RE Class licence.

Noting that on ESVConnect, Type 5 Generation systems is divided into sub-classes for internal combustion engine generators and renewable energy systems. So this allocation will also provide for the conditional licences.

For paper COES, it is the responsibility of the LEW and LEI to ensure the LEI is appropriately licensed for the particular inspection to be undertaken.

Date: 19/07/2024 21:44

The currency and accuracy of this information cannot be guaranteed once printed or saved to a storage device. If in doubt, please check the Energy Safe Victoria website for the current version.

Reviewed