It is not news that a number of our farmers make use of solar panels on their farms. This is a great way to save electricity costs and mitigate risks when the power fails. Although not an unfamiliar feature on a farm, we found that in most cases, the solar panels are small in comparison to the large solar panel exposures one would expect on commercial policies. For this reason, we have revisited our underwriting guidelines for solar panels, specifically for our Agri clients.
Certificate of compliance
Legislative requirements on farms remain a big challenge. This includes anything from licensing for tractors, building regulation requirements as well as a certificate of compliance when installing electrical appliances such as solar panels.
As per the Electricity Regulation Act of 2006 and SANS 10142, it is clear that a certificate of compliance (CoC) is required when any electrical wiring is done (for example, when a generator is connected to the existing internal wiring of the property).
In line with this, when fitting a solar panel to a building, a qualified person has to do the electrical wiring and provide a certificate of compliance.
The challenge with this requirement is that, in most instances, the farmers install the solar panels themselves or the co-operative will sell and install the panels. In both cases, neither is qualified to do so or to sign off on electrical changes.
This makes it very difficult to insure such systems because Santam have no confirmation that the system was installed according to the required specifications or regulations.
Should a fire occur that directly relates to faulty electrical wiring, we could face a very sticky situation at claim stage? It is therefore very important that a qualified person installs the solar panels and that a certificate of compliance is issued for the changes to the electrical wiring.
Please take note that the above information is also relevant when it comes to the CoC requirement for your house or business. An example will be when a generator is connected to the existing internal wiring of your house or pack house.
The diagram below clearly illustrates the connection of a solar panel.
There are two main types of systems in South Africa
• The GRID-tied system and
• The off-GRID system.
For both types of systems, electrical wiring has to be done and therefore a certificate of compliance must be issued.
Click here for more information on solar panel insurance.