What next after FiT?

This Sunday, 31st March 2019 marks the end of the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) Scheme, an incentive scheme that has driven the growth of small and mid-sized renewable generation projects across the UK since 2010.

So, what next for installers and our industry? Although MCS certification has been key to claiming incentives, in the wake of these changes, it is important to consider the other benefits of MCS membership.

1) How should my business prepare for the FiT closure?

You need to ensure that your installation has been commissioned on or before the 31st March 2019. Applications for MCS certification to access FiT need be completed by the system owner up to and including the 31st March 2020.

Find some more in-depth guidance on this directly from Ofgem here.

2) What is going to happen post FiT?

One thing doesn’t and shouldn’t change, your MCS membership and ongoing adherence shows that you are a quality installer that complies with the industry recognised standard. We have clear evidence that consumers need support when looking for reliable providers, they approach us for guidance, appreciating that MCS certification can be trusted.

There are many business opportunities in a post-incentive world. We are seeing increasing excitement around the prospects of domestic battery storage and are close to finalising a battery storage certification scheme, with a pilot due in the summer.

The Smart Export Guarantee is on the horizon in terms of ensuring access to payment for excess energy.

3) What is the Smart Export Guarantee and how can I access it?

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) is the governments proposed replacement for the FiT. Once implemented the SEG should ensure that small-scale generators are remunerated for the electricity they export to the grid. We, as an industry are still awaiting the outcome of a recent government consultation and timescales on launch haven’t been confirmed.

A lot about the Smart Export Guarantee remains unclear.

However, the Government is considering MCS as the route through which households can access the new Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). If MCS is confirmed as the route then to be eligible, installations up to and including 50kw in size will then need to use MCS certified equipment, fitted by an MCS registered installer. Registering an installation with MCS after the end of the Feed-in-Tariff is then likely to give your customers access to SEG once live.

It should be remembered that MCS certification can’t be applied to an installation retrospectively. Not registering an installation with MCS after the end of FiT could mean your customer misses out on SEG once this is launched.

4) What is MCS?

We are a standards organisation. We create and maintain standards that allows for the certification of products, installers and their installations. Associated with these standards is the MCS certification scheme, run on behalf of MCS by Certification Bodies who hold UKAS accreditation to ISO 17065.

Ultimately your membership of MCS demonstrates adherence to these recognised industry standards; highlighting quality, competency and compliance.

5) Do I still need to register with MCS?

MCS demonstrates the quality of products and competence of installers in the renewable technology sector. Membership of MCS forms a solid base for growing your business.

We provide our members with trusted and exceptional opportunities to position your business as a quality, reputable renewable energy installer at the forefront of this growing industry.

In terms of ongoing certificate registrations, we would advise that you continue to do this; MCS certification is a mark of quality and demonstrates your compliance to industry standards.

Over and above claiming incentives, there are many other instances where MCS will also continue to be required:

By some Building Control Officers to demonstrate compliance with Building Regulations;

Where an NHBC warranty is issued with a New Build, MCS certification is documentation which NHBC accepts for solar systems, products and installations. Some Mortgage Lenders may not lend on a New Build if the development does not carry NHBC warranty;

CML published guidance (2016) regarding ‘guidance and minimum requirements regarding leases of roof space for fitting photovoltaic (solar) panels’. MCS is one of the requirements outlined;

Insurance: some providers of home (building and contents) insurance will require MCS as a condition of providing cover;

RISC Authority: RC62 recommendations for fire safety with photovoltaic panel installations recommends MCS installation requirement for UK building and content insurers;

Smart Export Guarantee: the Government is considering MCS as the route through which households can access the new Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).

The Feed-in Tariff has been tremendously important in supporting the adoption of small-scale renewables. As we look beyond FiTs, it is an exciting time for the industry with a clear opportunity to embrace a new landscape, independent of incentives. It is clear that there is still a vast, untapped potential for energy generation from renewable technologies.

We are working hard to ensure that you and your customers get maximum benefit from your continued MCS membership.