Mastering Solar Installation: Associations, USAID-PEP Hold Workshop in PNG

By: Roselyn Erehe April 15, 2024

Attendees of the SEAP/SEIAPI and USAID -PEP participate during the Standards Workshop presentation, in Port Moresby. -image provided by SEAP and USAID-PEP

In the ever-evolving development sectors of sustainable energy, mastering the installation of solar energy systems is both a skill and a necessity. With advancements and innovations occurring at a rapid pace, being informed with developments are crucial for companies in the electrical and solar industry.

The Sustainable Energy Industry Association Papua New Guinea (SEAP) recently hosted a pivotal workshop in partnership with the Sustainable Energy Industry Association of Pacific Islands (SEIAPI) and the United States Agency for International Development PNG Electrification Project (USAID-PEP).

Held on the 5th of April at the USAID-PEP office in Port Moresby, the event titled “SEIAPI/SEAP/USAID-PEP Solar Standards Workshop” brought together 60 participants from solar and electrical companies, government agencies, international donor organizations, and academia.

The USAID-PEP Chief of Party Bruce Corbet highlighted the importance of mini-grids and small-scale electrification in achieving PNG’s electrification goals.

Mr Corbet said, “This is one of the steps we are taking as more people join. And it is really important, this message, ‘that mini-grids and small-scale electrification is a fundamental part of electrifying Papua New Guinea’ and achieving the government’s goal of that 70% access target by 2030.”

He emphasized the necessity of partnerships and capacity development for such initiative.

USAID-PEP seeks to enable the creation of PNG’s mini-grid development industry. The workshop is for capacity development, including an opportunity to network with potential partners in the industry.

The workshop lasted 1 hour and 30 minutes and participants were immersed with information and knowledge, guided by a “Standards Presentation,” followed by a question-and-answer session and a few minutes of industrial networking.

The workshop, held both in person and online by Zoom, served as a platform of knowledge and collaboration, shedding light on solar energy installation.

SEIAPI Executive Officer, Geoff Stapleton, a distinguished pioneer of the Australian solar industry, led the workshop with commendable expertise and insight.

In collaboration with SEAP and USAID-PEP teams, Stapleton’s presentation delved deep into the topics such as design and product standards, solar energy standards, safety practices, and installation techniques.

The presentation focused on critical standards and guidelines regarding solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, with a specific focus on design, installation, and product standards.

Stapleton also provided a comprehensive overview of essential standards. From AS 4509.1:2009 to AS/NZS 4777.1:2016, each standard was explained with a visual guide, emphasizing its significance and implications for solar designers and installers.

Stapleton’s pivotal role in the development and refinement of solar industry standards was evident, showcasing his expertise and commitment to ensuring installation practices and safety measures are carried out during installation based on both specification and requirements.

The workshop's agenda covered a broad spectrum of topics, ranging from stand-alone power systems to grid connection requirements.

Attendees also participated in the presentation by discussion, which they gained insights into system designed complexity, safety requirements for PV (photovoltaic) arrays or solar arrays, and electrical installations involving battery systems.

Moreover, the presentation highlighted the inter-relation between various standards, emphasizing their collective role in ensuring the safety and effectiveness of solar energy systems.

One of the workshop's key takeaways was the importance of compliance with industry standards. With safety being a paramount concern, adherence to standards such as AS/NZS 5033:2021 and AS/NZS 5139:2019 is imperative for companies operating in the electrical and solar industry.

In addition, the workshop underscored the critical role of training and recognition schemes in fostering a culture of excellence and professionalism within the industry, especially in an industry where precision and compliance are paramount.

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