Solar Photovoltaic or “PV” still represents a solid business opportunity for Electricians and Electrical Contractors.
At Total Electrical Training, we have long recognised that the myriad of advice that you are presented with can seem extremely contradictory and in some cases, deliberately framed to be confusing.
We are perhaps one of the few companies that can provide you with comprehensive technical and business advice, as well as providing you with renewable energy training courses in Solar PV, that will ensure that you stay ahead of the game!
The MCS – that’s the Microgeneration Certification Scheme – was established 3 years ago to provide domestic consumers with robust protection, against the proliferation of rogue traders, who were beginning to “dupe” customers into parting with thousands of pounds, for systems that simply would never work and potentially, could be dangerous. The MCS scheme provides further checks and balances, that almost “type approves” and independently certifies microgeneration products, such as inverters and solar PV panels, as well as the technical installer. So MCS in a nutshell, establishes a consistent verifiable approach to ensure that the products, the installer and the ancillary services meet the highest standards and protect the customer.
The MCS is the only certification scheme to cover all microgeneration products, installers and other ancillary services. It has the full support from the Department of Energy and Climate Change. It also has the support of the building industry at large, as well as other non governmental groups. Crucially, It also has the full backing of all 3 main political parties.
The challenge for the MCS is that in the coming years, it becomes the prime method for individuals and businesses alike, to make a substantial contribution to saving energy and cutting the UK’s dependency on fossil fuels and thus significantly reducing the carbon footprint.
Certified installers and products
To be eligible for a Low Carbon Buildings Programme grant or for the installation to benefit from the feed on tariffs, a certified MCS Installer and MCS approved product(s) must be used.
Installers and products used for the Low Carbon Buildings Programme and feed in tariffs are certified by MCS which is an independent certification scheme designed to certify microgeneration products and installers in accordance with consistent standards. The primary aim of the MCS is to provide consumers with confidence and protection by guaranteeing that microgeneration products and installers who carry the mark meet, and will continue to meet these robust quality standards.
Installers who are certified through MCS must also be a member of the REAL Assurance Scheme which means that the installer must abide by a consumer code that covers all factors contributing to a high standard of consumer service, before, during and after a contract is agreed.
Q. What is the MCS?
A. The MCS is a government appointed, independent recognised quality assurance and certification scheme that provides a robust framework for consumers – it is also is a mark of your competency and demonstrates to your customer’s that you can install microgeneration products, thus allowing for consumers to benefit from FIT’s and low carbon loans.
Q. What is a “FIT”?
A. A FIT or a Feed-In Tariff provides guaranteed payments to individuals, businesses and other eligible premises. FIT’s for small-scale electricity generation are a relatively new concept in the UK, but have operated successfully in other countries (Germany, USA etc) for a number of years. For technologies where there is an MCS standard, both the technology and the installer must be MCS certificated to be eligible for the application of these feed in tariffs.
Q. What other environmental technologies doe the MCS scheme apply to?
A. As well as Solar Photovoltaic (PV), MCS also applies to Solar Thermal Hot Water, Ground & Air Source Heat pumps, bio fuels (biomass), Micro Wind, Micro Hydro and combined heat and power
Q: Is the MCS the same as Part P?
A. No; you must remember that MCS is a quality assurance and certification scheme, although it is recognised that in the case of Solar PV, it is likely that the vast majority of installations will be installed and commissioned by electricians and enterprises who are registered with an existing competent persons scheme… you can get more information on our about Part P section click here
Q. I am already part of a competent person’s scheme – how do I get certified to install under a MCS scheme
A. MCS in some ways is no different to Part P registration. However, you will have to undertake a separate assessment visit, which will normally be split into two parts: an office based assessment, covering aspects such as contract review documents, design and installation, set to work documents, risk assessments, commissioning of the appropriate microgeneration system. The second part of the assessment is a planned visit to an installation to review the work that you have undertaken, to ensure that it meets the needs of the MCS certification parameters, including technical competencies of the installer. It is normal practice for a senior technical representative to be present during both parts of this assessment.
Please bear in mind that you will also have to have an annual surveillance visit, with some scheme provider already saying that this will be a chargeable item. In all cases, whether it is the first assessment visit or the annual surveillance visit, these assessments are not the same as the assessment that you have had carried out with the competent persons scheme provider, for the purposes of Part P, moreover, that in order for the consumer to benefit from the FIT, it must have MCS approved products and the installer must be MCS certificated. The installer must also have REAL assurance in place – for more information on REAL, click here
Q. Are their any further benefits of joining a MCS installer scheme?
A. The many benefits that an installation company would gain from would be the use of the MCS logo, a listing on the MCS web site, and if you are already registered with a Part P scheme provider, a number of them have introduced reduced enrolment fees, the application processes have been simplified and some of them have further inducements such as free support literature, ready made certificates etc
Q. I haven’t had any experience with microgeneration system installs – what help is there?
A. We introduced Solar PV courses that more than meets the requirements of the MCS, that more than meets the pre requisites for applying to a MCS Microgeneration Certification scheme, including the NICEIC installers microgeneration scheme. Here at Total Electrical Training, we have trained literally hundreds of delegates over the last 10 years, and furthermore, we recognised that there would be confusion and in some cases, deliberate misinformation about the MCS, and what training you might need – which is why we have published this web page with some background information – If you are seeking further clarification or you simply want to talk to us about the MCS, or further technical advice, then please do not hesitate to call us on our main telephone number which is 0800 170 7007.
Q. Do you deliver any other renewable energy training courses that offers certification accepted as meeting the requirement of MCS?
A. We are able to offer the LOGIC Solar PV certification and the original NICEIC Solar PV course – however, with the recent changes to the Feed in Tariff, we have decided that we will initailly suggest that delegates undertake the City and Guilds 2399 certification route.
Q. Are the non accredited training courses that you offer likely to be accepted by a competent persons scheme provider?
A. The Solar PV course that we offer is and has more than met the requirements of the MCS, however, all MCS scheme providers have exacting and very specific entry requirements which normally means that you will have to have achieved a successful pass in an accredited qualification. – call us on 0800 170 7007 for more information.
Q. Does the MCS certification apply in Scotland?
A: The microgeneration certification scheme applies in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, but remember, the standard Part P Competent Person Schemes do not apply in Scotland.
Q. How is the MCS different to my current Part P registration?
A. As we have said, although the MCS is really no different to your existing competent persons scheme registration, it will allow your clients and customers to access the all important FIT’s. MCS is really an extension to the scope of work and some Part P scheme providers are extending the scope free of charge for a limited period. Please bear in mind though that having a QA (quality system) is a requirement under MCS. However, we can provide you with advice and assistance, so please call us on 0800 170 7007.
Quality Assurance is also part of the both the City and Guilds 2399 Solar PV series of accredited renewable energy training courses as well as the original City and Guilds 2372 qualification – this is important, as we not only train you in the actual technical aspects of Solar PV, but we also carry out a series of sessions with you so that you can easily understand the roles of the MCS competent person’s schemes, like the schemes administered by the NICEIC, Elecsa and NAPIT.
Q. Do I or does my company need to demonstrate competence?
A. Yes. Assessment of competency of either the individual or in the case of an enterprise, the quality supervisor, will most certainly need to be demonstrated and evidenced. This will need to be shown on completion of registration and will be ascertained and clearly established when you have your assessment visit. You will need to provide evidence to the assessor that you have the required technical competencies in site surveying, site assessment, FIT estimates, testing, installation and final commissioning of a typical grid connected solar PV system. This competency can be evidenced by attendance on a certified and recognised Solar PV course.