History in the making

Steve Pester
Steve Pester, BRE, is delighted to see a government minister put his energy into the new solar guide

Wow! That’s the first time we have seen an energy minister launch a technical guide for the PV industry!

This kind of direct encouragement surely indicates the dawning of a new era in which government and industry are working more closely, and a sign that solar is, at last, being taken more seriously. If you want more evidence of this, take a look at the updated UK Renewable Energy Roadmap (2012), which states: “This year’s Roadmap sets out the Government’s view that solar PV has the potential to form a significant part of our renewable energy generation mix, and analysis shows that the market could bring forward between 7 to 20GW of solar PV by 2020.” The 2011 version of the roadmap did not really mention solar.

The technical guide I am referring to is, of course, the new version of the industry standard guide (A Guide to the Installation of Photovoltaic Systems), now published by MCS (the previous version was the DTI Ed. 2 document). This completely re-vamped guide is the result of many months of hard work over a 2 year period by the MCS PV working Group and is a significant step forward in the effort to improve PV installation knowledge and practice in the UK.

In fact, it is effectively more than a guide because the MCS installation standard (MIS 3002) has also been updated to refer to the guide for nearly all of the technical detail. So what is written in the guide should essentially be regarded as a way of complying with MCS, as well as best practice.

Of particular note, the new document includes:

–          A simplified method for calculating the wind loading on roof structures and checking fixings are adequate

–          Tables of solar radiation for over 20 regions in the UK

–          A simplified method of estimating likely energy yield prior to installing

–          An updated decision tree to determine whether or not to earth a mounting frame

–          Types of protection devices (RCDs) and whether to fit

.. and lots more.

The guide, MCS standard, and tables of solar radiation can be downloaded free of charge at: http://www.microgenerationcertification.org/mcs-standards/installer-standards