MCS exhibits at Solar & Storage Live 2023

From 17-19 October, MCS exhibited at Solar & Storage Live 2023, the UK’s largest renewable energy exhibition at the NEC Birmingham. 

Dan White, Chris Hewitt, Stephen Knight & Frankie Evans, SEUK stand at Solar & Storage Live 2023

We spent the three days meeting contractors, manufacturers and trade body representatives on stand. Members of the MCS team also joined industry experts on a range of panels, discussing quality in the solar sector, solar uptake across the UK, and what training is needed to develop the future solar workforce.

For the second year running we partnered with Solar Energy UK to deliver the state-of-the-art Installer Training Hub. We hosted a range of sessions on how to become certified for solar PV and the benefits of adding battery storage to your scope.


Day One – Tuesday 17 October:

On day one of the show, Ian Rippin, CEO of MCS, joined Chair Chris Hewett, Chief Executive at Solar Energy UK, and other members of the UK’s Solar Taskforce, to discuss what is needed from the Government, the industry, and the nation to reach our target of 70GW solar power capacity by 2035.

Ben Fawcett, Head of Solar at EDF Renewables, said that the Solar Taskforce need to engage with local authorities, colleges, and communities to provide better exposure to jobs in the solar sector. Ian added that the solar sector needs better funding in order for people to see a solar as the profitable and secure career that it is.


Skills Needed for the Future Solar Workforce

Later that day, Ian joined Chair Mark Wakeford, Chairman of Evo Energy Ltd, to discuss how the Solar Taskforce can develop and deliver the skills and training needed for the future solar workforce. They were joined by other solar industry experts:

  • John Davies, Chief Executive Officer, 2DegreesKelvin
  • Andrew Eldred, Director of Workforce and Public Affairs, Electrical Contractors Association

The panel discussed the need for increased Government funding, access to high quality training courses and clarity on roles within the solar sector. Andrew Eldred told the audience that the Solar Taskforce need to create a streamline pathway for getting people from education, to work experience, to employment.

Ian added that for the solar industry to grow we need to create courses that are high quality, accessible and well-funded. MCS recently developed the UK’s first ever dedicated Low Carbon Heating Apprenticeship. The panel agreed that a similar high-quality solar apprenticeship is required to deliver the skilled workforce needed to meet UK solar demand.


MCS Working Group Event

We wrapped up the first day with a short presentation from our Standards team. MCS Secretariat, Alison Hardman gave an overview of the MCS Scheme and the plans for upcoming redevelopment and new scheme launch, whilst MCS Technical Officer, Lucy McKenzie, spoke on the MCS Standards development strategy. The presentation was followed by drinks, canapés and networking for contractors, manufacturers, and industry experts alike.


Day Two – Wednesday 18 October:

On day two of the show, Green Economy joined us on stand. They gave away free three-month memberships to the first 20 people who visited them on stand. Green Economy will now support the lucky 20 membership-holders in their business’s transition to Net Zero.

During our second day at the show, Senior Helpdesk Analyst, Jordan Williams, delivered three brilliant sessions at the Installer Training Hub. He presented a session on the MCS Solar PV Standard, an MCS Data Dashboard workshop and a Becoming Certified clinic. It was great to see the enthusiasm from contractors wanting to become certified.


Drinks & Networking

We wrapped up the second day with a drinks reception on our stand, inviting guests and visitors to join us. It was great to network with our installers and hear about the technologies they’ve recently become certified for.

Later that evening, the MCS team attended Solar Energy UK’s Solar Networking Celebration. We were joined by influential guests from across the solar industry, including Dr K.T. Tan, Chair of the MCS Solar PV Working Group. It was an inspiring evening of networking and collaborative learning. It was great to hear from Chris Hewett about the great work the industry is doing towards Net Zero.


Day Three – Thursday 19 October:

On day three of the show, Ian joined Chair Gemma Grimes, Director of Policy at Solar Energy UK, to examine the roles, opportunities and challenges of solar technologies in the UK’s transition to Net Zero. They were joined by:

  • Gareth Williams, Managing Director, Caplor Energy
  • Jonathan Scurlock, Chief Adviser, Renewable Energy and Climate Change, National Farmers Union

Gareth told the panel about the need for ‘solar specific qualifications’; we have electricians who want to diversify into solar but don’t know what steps they need to take to get there.


The Brightest Spot in UK

Later that morning, Alex Hughes, MCS Scheme Manager, and Adam Padilla, Scheme Analyst, co-chaired a panel on the latest MCS data on solar PV. Solar PV continues to be the most popular small-scale renewable technology installed on UK homes. Alex told the audience that nearly 160,000 solar PV installations have been installed across the UK since the start of 2023. They were joined by:

  • Girvin Gill, Policy Advisor, Sustainable Energy Association
  • Gareth Williams, Managing Director, Caplor Energy
  • Malcom Davis, Senior Programme Manager, Welsh Government

The panel discussed the policy packages that are driving uptake across the home nations, why Scotland and Wales are leading the way, and what lessons local and national Governments can learn from each other.

Adam told the audience that Scotland has recently exceeded 150,000 solar PV installations, which translates to just over 6.1% of Scottish homes having solar panels. Girvin then discussed the three main policies that are driving this impressive uptake: Smart Export Guarantee, 0% VAT on renewables and interest free loans.

Gareth told the audience that Caplor Energy is seeing a surge in domestic solar PV installations also having a battery installed.


Future Leaders: 5to50

We wrapped up the show with a presentation from the Future Leaders Cohort on their latest project ‘5to50’. Speaking from the Future Leaders Cohort was:

  • George Bailey, Head of Operations, Kiwa CMT
  • Olivia Broad, Portfolio Co-ordinator, Environment Agency
  • Jonathan King, Registration Services Manager, OFTEC
  • Ceri Henderson, Team Leader, Certsure LLP

The Future Leaders Programme is a nine-month, immersive experience, which equips participants with a unique set of leadership skills to tackle climate change related issues. The programme is sponsored by MCS. Richard Cartlidge, director of the programme, and Ian Rippin, CEO of MCS, introduced the panel and discussed the successes of The Future Leaders Programme so far.

The Future Leaders Cohort then took to the stage to discuss creating high-quality informative resources for children and parents relating to net zero and carbon literacy. During the panel they officially launched their video: The video is freely available and aims to educate children on climate change.

The three-day exhibition was a great opportunity to meet contractors, collaborate with industry partners and learn about the challenges and opportunities within the solar sector. We look forward to next year!

For more highlights from the show, check out the Solar & Storage Live website. Don’t forget to follow us on social media to keep up with our events as they happen.


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