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Scheme of success

With the raft of new technologies aimed at reducing bills and energy usage, the government is aiming to get close to two million installations in place by 2020, so there is a big market there for any installer company looking to get involved, says MCS.

Approximately 50 per cent of all our energy is used for heating and hot water, with 75 per cent of domestic household energy consumption being heating and hot water. It is estimated that 30 per cent of our electricity may be delivered from renewables, with 2 per cent from small-scale electricity generation.

Microgeneration provides new opportunities for construction industry professionals, and MCS is the way to get involved.

MCS is the Microgeneration Certification Scheme. It is an industry-led way of guaranteeing that micro-renewable products bearing the mark, and the installation companies fitting them, meet robust standards. It was set up to help companies demonstrate to customers in a potentially bewildering market that they can be trusted to do a decent job. At the moment, for micro-scale (sub-50kW) electricity generators, the only way to access Feed-in Tariffs is for the job to have been carried out by an MCS-certificated installation company. The same model will be followed when the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is launched to consumers, with the likes of solar thermal and heat pump installs sized below 45 kW eligible if the job is done by an MCS-approved company.

Installer certification entails assessing the supply, design, installation, set-to-work and commissioning of renewable microgeneration technologies.

Scheme benefits
MCS is an internationally recognised quality assurance scheme. It allows you to demonstrate to your customers that your company is committed to meeting rigorous and tested standards. It was designed with input from installer and product representatives. Similar to the Gas Safe Register, the MCS gives you a mark of competency and demonstrates to your customers that you can install to the highest quality every time. In a growing and competitive market place, it is likely that companies carrying the MCS mark will become the leading choice of many consumers. This is partly because MCS is linked to many of the key factors driving demand, such as:

• Feed-in Tariffs which provide guaranteed payments to individuals, businesses and communities for small-scale electricity generation. For technologies where there is an MCS standard, both the technology and the installer must be MCS certificated to be eligible.
• The Renewable Heat Incentive Phase 1 (for non domestic installations) provides cashback to businesses and communities for renewable heat generation. For technologies where there is an MCS standard, both the technology and the installer must be MCS certificated to be eligible.
• The Renewable Heat Premium Payment provides a one-off grant for renewable heat technologies and requires that MCS certificated installers and products are used.
• The Code for Sustainable Homes is the Government’s national sustainability standard for newly built homes. MCS certificated technologies can be used to meet the requirements of this Code.
• Planning permission for consumers for certain renewable energy technologies has now been made a lot simpler thanks to permitted development rights introduced in England and Scotland.
• The Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) for Energy Rating of Dwellings recognises MCS certificated products when determining whether products are eligible for inclusion in SAP assessments

To take advantage of this growing demand you should be considering the certification process and how you can get involved now.

Becoming MCS certificated
Becoming a certified installation company is not as difficult or as expensive as is sometimes reported. An applicant is assessed based on the twin criteria of technical competence and having a well-run business. For many installations, we commonly see companies coming forward, using their existing know-how, perhaps supplemented with some additional training in the new technologies they plan on installing. To assess the business side, things like health and safety policies and complaints procedures are looked at. Assessment is proportionate to the size of the company, so a small firm will be asked to provide a much simpler set of information than a large national company.

Certification is carried out by independent, UKAS accredited bodies. There’s a choice of nine at the moment. Each has a different fee structure, which is up on their website, so you can easily compare them all. MCS itself collects an annual certification fee of £110, and then a small charge for each installation that is carried out. Those fees cover all the costs of maintaining the scheme, running the industry groups that write the standards, providing a helpdesk and website, and marketing the scheme to raise consumer awareness.

We also ask that companies sign up with a consumer code of conduct, which makes sure that selling practices are fair to the consumer, and comes with benefits like a deposit protection scheme and workmanship warranties, which are an added reassurance for customers.

To find out more, and to get involved, visit the MCS website. It has more detail on the process for becoming certificated, and guides you to the certification bodies mentioned above. Once you are confident that you want to be part of the scheme, the next stage is to contact those bodies, and identify the right one for you. The timetable from there depends on individual circumstances, but it is reasonable to expect that within a couple of months the average installer company will be fully certified, and off and running.

For further information, see www.microgenerationcertification.org, or call the MCS Helpdesk on 020 7090 1082.

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