Creating a quality mark for renewable energies

The use of renewable energies in healthcare settings has taken off in recent years, with clinical leaders coming round to the cost and environmental benefits it can bring. Yasir Khan of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme outlines an assurance framework for energy consumers

Renewable energy has seen a recent rise in uptake – with a push by the government through various incentives, more people have adopted renewable technologies. However, it is not just limited to domestic households as the benefits can also be reaped by commercial users such as hospitals and G.P practices. Here is an explanation of the role the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) plays in the renewable energy market.

An energy standard
With the renewable energy market growing and developing at a rapid pace, the government took steps to encourage and maintain this growth. This ultimately led to the creation of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). Established in 2009 as a quality assurance scheme for renewable energy technologies, its main objective is to help ensure a high standard is being met by both manufacturers and installers.

Covering a range of both heat generating and electricity generating technologies, MCS works with industry experts, installers, and manufacturers, to make sure that the benchmarks we set are providing consumers with the knowledge that any technology they choose to have installed conforms to rigorous standards. MCS currently covers the following technologies: solar photovoltaic, biomass, solar thermal, wind turbines, heat pumps, and micro-CHP.  
 
 Microgeneration technologies are at the smaller end of the spectrum, and are more popularly used in domestic settings or smaller scale commercial and industrial properties. MCS covers electricity generating products up to 50kw, and heat generating technologies up to 45kw. However, it should be noted that although an individual heat product cannot not exceed 45kw, consumers could have an installation with multiple heat products up to 70kw and still be covered by the scheme. For example, a larger property could install two heat pumps; one at 30kw and one at 40kw, and this could still be commissioned by an MCS installer and access the Renewable Heat Incentive.

How can MCS help you?
Knowing that a product and the installer have gone through rigorous testing should provide customers peace of mind knowing they have a well built and correctly installed product that should work to its full potential. However, MCS recognises that as a quality assurance scheme it is important to continually monitor those certified by the scheme and to ensure  they are providing a constant level of quality.

Furthermore, it is mandatory for every installer looking to join MCS to also join a Trading Standards Institute (TSI) approved consumer code. This is currently provided by the Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC). RECC outlines sales and marketing practices that all installation companies must abide by, and continued adherence to this Code is a condition of a company maintaining their MCS certification.  
    
Helping consumers
RECC have produced a number of detailed guides for consumers, which we strongly recommend reading as they will help provide a more detailed understanding of the Consumer Code and what duties the installer has towards their customers.
    
MCS not only provides consumers with a level of protection, but also allows them to go on to access government incentive scheme, such as the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) and the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). The incentive schemes allow consumers to access funding for the energy they generate. FITs were launched in 2010, and are linked to electricity generating technologies such as solar photovoltaic and wind turbines.
    
More recently, the government launched the Renewable Heat Incentive, which is linked to heat generating products such as biomass boilers, heat pumps and solar thermal panels.

Look for the MCS mark
Once you have decided to choose renewable energy you will need to visit the MCS website where you will be able to search for certified installers and products. It is very important that consumers verify the credentials of any installers, to ensure they are using someone certified by MCS. Moreover the MCS website provides a comprehensive consumer section, covering topics ranging from what consumers should ask their installer, what should be included in their handover packs, insurance and finance, planning information, and much more.
    
Renewable technology has been installed all across the UK on a variety of domestic and commercial properties, including private homes, businesses, schools, and hospitals. MCS has developed over the years, and currently has over 3,000 installation companies certified with the scheme, and a further 17,000 different certified products.
    
This provides a wide range of options to meet the needs of consumers. If you are looking to improve your energy efficiency and access the government incentives, then renewable technologies and MCS may be a good choice for you – just remember to look for the MCS mark.

Further information
www.microgenerationcertification.org

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