Consumer protection in small-scale renewables: research report and findings
The mission of MCS is to give people confidence in home-grown energy by defining, maintaining and improving quality for low carbon products and installations.
The sector in which MCS operates is not simple. While certification is primarily a technical matter, consumer protection in the small-scale renewables market is complicated.
It’s difficult to provide consistent outcomes to common complaints when processes differ between each certification body, consumer code and insurance backed guarantee provider that a contractor chooses when becoming MCS certified.
This can be a minefield for consumers who require help if something goes wrong with their installation. MCS is a mark of quality, so we continue to work with industry, Government and consumers to overcome this barrier.
“Compliance with MCS standards is far from needless red tape – it offers vital protections for consumers, while benefiting quality installers by keeping the cowboys out. We fully support MCS’s plans to strengthen and simplify the scheme as a win-win for consumers and the industry alike, putting us further down the path of addressing the net zero, cost-of-living and energy security imperatives.”
Cherry Parker, Director of Business Development at Solar Energy UK.
CONSUMER CONFIDENCE IS KEY
The scale of Government ambition for the sector is expanding. In parallel, public demand for self-sufficiency and affordable energy is also growing as the cost of living continues to rise.
It is time for the sector to undertake a thorough review of existing consumer protection processes to simplify the ways that consumers can address issues. Making the consumer journey as helpful and straightforward as possible is critical for industry growth.
“DE-RISKING” THE CONSUMER JOURNEY
In early 2022, MCS instructed its research partner to conduct an extensive programme of research on the sector’s current approach to consumer protection. MCS also carried out an installer experience survey to gauge the contractor community’s approach to consumer protection.
“The Heat Pump Federation (HPF) is delighted to welcome this next step in the development of MCS, the need for which has also been borne out in the Federation’s own programme of homeowner and community engagement.
“Consumer protection is vital to consumer confidence, and consumer confidence is the only route to mass adoption of heat pump technology. The proposed changes that MCS is setting out will provide levels of consumer protection that are unrivalled in the domestic heat sector. The twin approaches of enhancing consumer investment security, with progress on the development of installer skills and responsibilities, will be a key building block for the delivery of the decarbonisation of heat and hot water in our homes, without which net zero by 2050 will be unattainable.
“The HPF looks forward to ever closer collaboration with MCS, as heat pump technology displaces polluting fossil fuels at an increasing rate, and as consumers look to the industry to ensure that they can make the clean heat transition with confidence.”
Bean Beanland, Director for Growth & External Affairs, Heat Pump Federation
CONSUMER PROTECTION RESEARCH
The research project included:
• An online survey of more than 2,000 nationally representative individuals who have responsibility for their home energy
• An online survey of 500 individuals who have one or more renewable energy systems at home
• Several focus groups, consisting of individuals with and without small-scale renewable energy technology systems
The research found that current consumer protections fall short of what consumers expect to be in place.
Despite the reliable track record of small-scale renewable technologies, these systems are still unfamiliar to many people and investing in them may still be considered a financial risk.
As such, the industry must adapt to deal with consumers’ concerns, especially those considering renewables for the first time.
Published in December 2022, the MCS report – Consumer protection in small-scale renewables – provides the industry with:
• Insights on the need to “de-risk” the consumer journey
• An overview of the current confusing complaints management process
• What small-scale renewable energy contractors expect
• A plan for the future of consumer protection in small-scale renewables
Click the button below to access the full report and read our next steps to address the consumer protection challenge:
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