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Microgeneration Certification Scheme and commercial buildings

Buderus solar panels on a roof
The vision of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) was originally designed to provide confidence and protection for homeowners, by guaranteeing that certified renewable products and installers meet robust standards.

But as Phase 2 of the Low Carbon Buildings Programme gathers momentum, MCS now becomes very important for commercial buildings too.

Richard Evans, director of sales at Buderus, talks us through the ups and downs of MCS and what the future holds:

"Originally conceived in 2006, BRE Global was appointed by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, (previously the Department of Trade and Industry and now the Department of Energy and Climate Change) on a two-year contract to develop the MCS scheme to ensure installers and renewable products lived up to an 'approved' Government standard.

"A very good idea in principle, but when you consider that no-less than three different departments have looked after this scheme over a period of two years you'd be forgiven for questioning whether it is actually fit for purpose.

Aim of MCS scheme

“Its main aim is to raise the awareness of renewable technologies and the role that they can play in reducing carbon emissions and energy bills.

“In addition, it also looks to address the barriers of entry into the marketplace for renewables and generate consumer confidence in the effectiveness of these products and services, both from a technological and cost perspective.

“It has been well documented that the MCS has had its problems, with a complicated application process and significant financial outlay for installers to join proving to be real stumbling blocks.

"Frustratingly this has resulted in a very slow uptake and has actually put off more installers from diversifying into renewables than it has encouraged.

Costs reduced

“On a more positive note, the scheme is now being operated by Gemserv, improvements have been made and costs to the installer have been reduced.

“Now slowly but surely take up is growing, and confidence in renewables is increasing. So it is now more important than ever that the industry pulls together.

“Renewables are the future of the industry and we should all be doing what we can to encourage take up.


“At Buderus we are planning a number of developments over the next 12-18 months to increase our renewable portfolio.

"These developments will allow us to offer a wide range of energy efficient solutions to our clients and with better financial support from the Government in place we can really start to drive the renewable market forwards.

“The reason MCS has now become relevant for the commercial heating sector is because of its partnership with the Low Carbon Buildings Programme (LCBP).

“Until recently the LCBP has only offered homeowners' grants for having a renewable product installed in their home, providing the installer and product are MCS registered.

"But since March of this year, financial incentives have been made available for public sector buildings making MCS very relevant to commercial installers and manufacturers.

“Schools, hospitals, local authorities and charitable organisations are all able to access Government grants to assist with the cost of installing renewable technologies.

“This represents and excellent opportunity for ACS accredited installers and commercial heating manufacturers to encourage the take up of renewables in these buildings and it also creates a potential stepping stone to a scheme with a wider scope to cover all commercial properties.

Energy targets

“It's clear that the Government's energy targets are going to be tough to meet. With CO2 reduction targets of 80% to be achieved by 2050, and the UK requiring a renewable take up of 15% by 2020, we know we have a lot of work to do.

“At present the number of renewables installed in the UK annually is less than 4%, and we are well behind much of Western Europe.

“In fact, we are so far behind that the 15% figure is a reduced target, other nations must deliver 20% in the next decade but because of our poor performance to date our target is significantly lower and, in reality we will probably still struggle to meet this reduced target too.

“Phase 2 of the LCBP coupled with initiatives like the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) are steps in the right direction but we must be doing more to incentivise investors and make it easier for contractors to opt for renewables when upgrading heating systems in existing commercial buildings”.