Monday 21 April 2008

Sargent gets his fingers burnt by solar panels

SOLAR panel installers now have to step up to the mark -- after a Government Minister got his fingers burned.

Junior Food Minister Trevor Sargent, former leader of the Green Party, suffered damage to his home after panels were incorrectly installed.

Grants for alternative energy are provided by the Government on referral of applicants to Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) which lists a number of approved suppliers.

SEI now requires all its listed trades-people to have completed FETAC courses -- at which they are trained in proper installation.

It is too late for Mr Sargent, who obtained a supplier for solar panels from the SEI website. At the time, operators only had to be insured -- and were not certified for the work.

Mr Sargent connected two solar panels to heat his water when only one was required. By summer, his water had reached boiling point -- while his supplier had only connected plastic pipes, instead of copper.

The pipes melted, and the resultant leak caused extensive damage. The incident happened up to five years ago.


The new training requirements come as another Green Minister, Eamon Ryan, has revealed plans to 'plant' a grass roof to better insulate his suburban Dublin family home.

Majella Kelleher, who administers the Greener Homes Scheme for the SEI, told the Irish Independent: "We do operate a list of registered suppliers. They now have to have a national qualification, as of March 31, 2008. Not only do they have to be tax compliant, but they must also complete a FETAC approved course in alternative technology.

"At the end of the day, responsibility still lies with the householder to get references and to understand their own needs."

Senan Molony Deputy Political Editor
Irish Independent

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