Opinion

Standard deviation

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Robert Burke, HETAS, turns his attention to the changes to installer standards recently announced by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS)

The news that the MCS has announced two new initiatives brings the launch of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) even closer. HETAS has been closely involved with the consultation process, which has resulted in modified installer standards for the heat technologies of biomass, solar thermal and heat pumps, as well as a clearer path to installer certification.

The new installer standards mean that the government can make MCS the requirement for all customers wishing to access the RHI when it is introduced from Spring 2014. The changes are as a result of consultation with MCS Working Groups comprising of installers, manufacturers and trade associations including HETAS. The largest change is the addition of Compliance Certificates which are designed as a checklist for installers which will help determine the suitability of the installation to the relevant MIS standard.

The other major change is a clearer path to certification in order to make it easier for installers to become MCS certified, making it clearer how to up-skill and re-skill in response to the introduction of the RHI. The installer competency criteria combines experience and training, with a framework of roles so that installers can understand how the criteria applies to their job function. To make life easier, MCS will be launching an online competency checker tool, with a framework designed for every size and type of installer company.

The new competency criteria will apply from March 16 2014, which could affect anyone with existing qualifications who is advised to check with MCS as some older courses may not meet the new criteria. The HETAS H005 biomass installer course was recently updated to meet the requirements of MCS and provide a pathway to MCS certification. The course is nationally recognised and aligned to the National Occupational Standard derived from QCF units. Successful candidates can register with the HETAS competent persons scheme for the installation of log, chip and pellet biomass boilers, pellet stoves and associated equipment. Importantly, for those wishing to take advantage of the RHI, the course can also be used as part of the criteria for approval with HETAS as an MCS installer for biomass.

With over 90 percent of funding under the non domestic version of RHI allocated to biomass it is anticipated there will be similar levels of interest from the domestic sector. With the recent announcement by Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) that condensing biomass boilers will be included in the domestic RHI, and with no plans to provide RHI payments for oil or gas installations, many installers are already looking to add renewable technologies to their existing skills.

As the only solid fuel and biomass specialists, HETAS can provide MCS approvals for both products and installers – requirements for all RHI applications. HETAS has already been gearing up for the introduction of the domestic RHI and has launched a new technical helpline, and publishes an annual guide with lists of approved appliances and provides regular technical updates for installers. For further information on MCS installer training, certification or product approvals please visit www.hetas.co.uk.