The planned changes to the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS)
GTEC's MD , Griff Thomas, discusses the planned changes to Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) criteria following its recent consultation, asking 'are we not at a point where renewables should be considered the 'norm'?
“The outcomes of MCS’ recent consultation have thrown-up some welcome proposals to simplify and upgrade the scheme’s criteria to better meet the needs to today’s renewable installers. Shifting the focus from paperwork to practical skill is one of the most important changes that will make certification more appealing and accessible to contractors.
“Other good additions include the promise that MCS will take a more centralised role in dealing with disputes, placing consumer protection at its heart.
Assessing the relevance of MCS as renewables Become more mainstream
“This is all great news, but should we be considering the relevance of MCS as renewables become commonplace building services? For example, Octopus Energy’s removal of the requirement for solar PV installations to be MCS certified in order to access their best Export Guarantee payment, marks a significant shift in attitudes.
“In my previous article, I pointed out that, as arguably the UK’s leading player in making renewable energy accessible for consumers, Octopus’ change in policy could herald the start of the other energy providers moving away from MCS certification as a benchmark of suitability for payments. Photovoltaics are now well-entrenched in our electrical landscape and included in the 18th Edition Wiring Regulation; is it really necessary to have another certification scheme on top of their other approvals such as competent persons schemes?
“At the moment, the big draw of MCS for heat pump installers is that a system must be MCS certified in order for consumers to access the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS), which has become even more attractive following the recent hike in funding, from £5k to £7.5k. In the future, however, BUS will come to an end, the price of heat pumps will come down and new payment models, some of which are already in the pipeline, will make switching from fossil fuels affordable for many more people.
Considering a future where MCS may no longer be needed
“Aira, for example, a clean energy tech company backed by Vargas holdings, is making it easier for consumers to decarbonise their homes by offering a full heat pump installation service for an affordable fixed monthly fee. Currently piloting in Italy, Aira has already launched in Germany and plans to launch in Italy and the UK later this year. Aira has developed its own heat pump and will no doubt, train a team of installers to deliver what is likely to be an extremely popular service - it has recently announced that it has raised €870M to fund these installations so no subsidy is required.
“The training we deliver is for experienced plumbing and heating engineers, already part of Competent Person’s Schemes (CPS) such as the Gas Safe register. With qualifications now specifically focussing on low temperature heating systems and a new Low Carbon Heating Technicians Apprenticeship (launched by MCS), we are moving towards an era where renewables are not ‘other’, they are part of the fabric of British buildings.
“While I’m not suggesting we scrap MCS, there are some exciting developments in the pipeline that will further push renewables into the mainstream, no different than any other electrical or heating system. The proposed raft of changes set to be implemented next year are welcome, but in the future is a separate standard setting scheme for renewables needed and does it arguably slow down take-up?”