Energy boss reinforces call for safe solar on all new-builds and housing developments

AN ENERGY boss has reinforced calls to install solar panels on all new-builds and housing developments in Wales.

And Gareth Jones, Vice President of the Federation of Master Builders for Wales, insists safety must be top priority following a series of incidents in past months, notably a solar panel battery fire on Anglesey.

Gareth, Managing Director of award-winning Carbon Zero Renewables – part of the Carbon Zero Group based in Old Colwyn, St Asaph, Mochdre, Llandudno and Deeside – backed the National Infrastructure Commission for Wales’s (NICW) plea for a review of national building regulations.

They say there must be change if 100% of electricity is to be supplied by renewable energy by 2035.

“It makes total sense for new buildings – especially larger structures that use a lot of energy – to be fitted with solar panels, it is the most cost-effective approach and of course vital for the future of our planet,” said Gareth.

“But it must be done with health and safety in mind given the high number of installers joining the sector that do not have the proper experience and accreditation.

“Installing them in a loft space for example, where temperatures soar in the summer, or the examples we’ve seen of people haphazardly placing panels on roofs without using scaffolding or safety harnesses.

“This problem needs to be fixed, especially as the industry is moving more and more towards renewables – standards need to be kept high to meet that demand.”

New data from the MCS revealed in the first six months of 2023, more than 120,000 certified solar panels, heat pumps and other renewable technologies were installed in UK homes, the highest number ever.

And with the NICW urging Welsh Government to present a plan for energy leading up to 2050, Gareth said much needs to be done immediately to combat issues swirling around the energy arena.

“I have lived and breathed this industry for the last 15 years, so from a health and safety perspective, and a financial and environmental perspective, it is crucial both governments get it right,” he said.

Reflecting on recent incidents, Gareth added: “Solar and battery systems are not fit and forget systems, despite some companies selling them like that.

“They need inspecting regularly by a competent person. If you have a system in a loft right now, get a hard-wired smoke alarm fitted immediately and ensure you have a reputable organisation scheduled for regular maintenance and inspection.

“As a sector we must safeguard the future of our customers, both now and long-term by adopting safely installed renewable energy across the country.”

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