Octopus’s SEG clause change is interesting but not a gamechanger (yet…)

As previously reported, Octopus, the energy provider of choice for consumers generating and storing their own electricity thanks to their attractive tariffs, has made a move that some in our industry have considered bold.

Not everyone sees the Clause 5.8 change as good for the industry.

By removing the requirement for a solar pv install to be MCS certified in order to access the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) there have been rumblings that this could herald a shift in attitudes towards MCS, encouraging installers to fit photovoltaic systems without MCS accreditation.

Mark Krull, Director at LCL Awards

The response of Mark Krull, director at LCL Awards, to this news is more cautious:

“No doubt this may be the case for certain installers. At the moment, however, it is only Octopus that has made this change, all be it that the energy provider is arguably a taste maker in its sector. Installers cannot guarantee that all their customers will choose Octopus and MCS is still essential for anyone accessing government grants, which may or may not be reintroduced for PV in the future.

“In my opinion, doing away with regulatory framework designed to ensure high quality installations and consumer safety should not be applauded.”

Wait for reforms

Change is inevitable as the renewables market becomes more widespread and there is no denying that MCS has been a stumbling block for many, with the time and cost involved in achieving accreditation off-putting. MCS is well aware of this and has recently completed a consultation in order to evolve its processes to meet the needs of the current installer base.

Mark believes there is a danger in moving away from accreditation and urges patience: “Without schemes like MCS, consumers are potentially at the mercy of ‘cowboys’. PV and battery systems that have not been installed and set-up correctly may not deliver the promised return on investment. For most end users, going ‘green’ presents a considerable up-front financial investment, so I’m sure that the majority will be looking for an installer that comes with some assurances – MCS offers that assurance, protecting the end user should things go wrong.

“It’s an interesting time in the building services sector, change is fast and opinions of how this change should happen, varied. What can’t be denied is that we need new ways to heat and power our homes, for environmental and cost reasons. Fossil fuel alternatives will fall flat without a well-trained installer base, high quality installations and consumer protection. I’m all for speeding these processes along, but not at the cost of quality and safety.

“The implementation dates of MCS’ reforms are the 2nd quarter of next year. Let’s see what these bring, and whether MCS delivers on its promise of a more straightforward method of becoming an approved installer – focussing on skills and workmanship, rather than paperwork.”

What are your thoughts? Share them with us: margaret@renewableenergyinstaller.co.uk