Future looks bright

Thomas Farquhar, Easy MCS, explains why he thinks the future is looking bright for renewables

On March 26th, Greg Barker the climate change minister announced the delay we had been expecting on the introduction of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)  for domestic properties. Due to commence in October this year, it has now been delayed for a launch date in summer 2013. Although this could be seen as bad news, the announcement does bring clarity to the timeframe installers have in which to prepare for the scheme’s launch. On a more positive note, the Renewable Heat Incentive Premium Payments which provide an upfront payment for householders who install a renewable heat technology have been extended from 2 April to fill the gap until the introduction of the RHI next summer. This means that renewable heat installers can continue to offer customers the upfront payment and then they can apply for the RHI when it commences next year.

The Green Deal is also due to commence in October this year. This will provide property owners with low interest financing to cover the costs of energy efficiency improvements. In conjunction with the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), it will provide a grant to enable a householder to reach the required energy efficiency levels to take advantage of the Green Deal. The ECO will cover energy improvement methods such as cavity wall insulation and double glazing with the running cost savings then covering the costs of servicing this finance.

Once a certain energy performance has been achieved the Green Deal will then cover renewable technologies such as solar PV. Installers interested in become Green Deal certified will need to operate to minimum quality standards similar and possibly related to MCS, to ensure not only quality installations but also consumer protection. Additional training will be required for installers looking to be able to provide the Energy Performance Certificates which will be the crucial element of the Green Deal. This will have some crossover with the Feed-in Tariffs which now also have the EPC requirement, so solar PV installers would benefit greatly from a diversification into this area.

2012 has already seen some changes to standards from REAL & MCS, further solidifying the scheme’s reputation as a mark of high quality which will lead to even higher consumer confidence in approved Installers. Changes include the structure and format of the clauses within MCS 001, and the introduction of the “Advance Deposit and Workmanship Warranty Scheme” with REAL and a number of changes to the MCS Heat Pump Standard, MIS 3005.

The changes to MCS and proposals for Green Deal both highlight the need for high quality training for new installers. The latest National Occupational Standards, which renewable training courses now have to be mapped to, have considerably increased the skills and knowledge that have to be instilled into each candidate.

For new installers this means a mapped training course in their chosen technology, is paramount along with associated qualifications such as; Part L Energy Efficiency. The key for new installers is to ensure their investment into training is money well spent, this means a certified course that is acceptable on your MCS or Green Deal assessment and not a non-certified course claiming to offer equivalent qualification. If in doubt it is always worth checking with your assessing body prior to assessment, alternatively Easy MCS Ltd can give advice.

Mapped courses on technologies such as solar PV &solar thermal are available from most reputable centres such as the Easy MCS Training Academy which offers training not only on new standards but also on equipment rarely seen in your average centre, ie. a full height, purpose built outdoor training roof to give a real world training experience.