What is the Microgeneration Certification Scheme?
With businesses and private households striving to cut their carbon footprint and make use of more sustainable forms of energy, renewable technologies are becoming increasingly popular.
MCS is designed to help the energy industry build customer confidence in the quality and reliability of new technologies and their installations. However, how does this scheme work in practice and how important is it within the industry? Read on for answers to these questions and more as we take a deep dive into the Microgeneration Certification Scheme.
What is MCS?
Put simply, the Microgeneration Certification Scheme is a quality assurance scheme for microgeneration technologies in the UK. Covering everything from solar panels and wind turbines to heat pumps and biomass boilers, this independent government-backed scheme is designed to ensure that the manufacturers and installers of microgeneration systems are able to meet high standards of performance, safety and reliability expected by potential consumers. By certifying individual products and specialist installers, MCS provides consumers with confidence in the quality of the renewable energy systems they invest in.
Overall, MCS has played a key role in promoting the adoption of small-scale renewable energy technologies in the UK. Not only has it worked to ensure consumers can trust the quality and performance of these systems and their installers, in the past, it has also supported a range of government renewable energy goals. It has done this by promoting a number of incentivising sustainable energy grant schemes and support programmes. This includes the government's historic Feed-in Tariff (FiT) and the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).
How does the MCS work?
As explained above, the purpose of MCS is to ensure all commercially-available microgeneration systems are installed correctly and perform efficiently. With this in mind, the scheme focuses on three individual areas to make sure this happens. These areas are:
1. Product certification
The quality and reliability of the commercial renewable tech is the primary concern of MCS. With this in mind, the scheme works to certify individual microgeneration products and technologies. This MCS certification works to assure consumers that a specific product meets high technical and quality standards. In practice, manufacturers and suppliers of these products have to apply for MCS certification for their products. This certification process involves rigorous testing and evaluation to verify that the product performs as claimed and meets safety and environmental criteria.
2. Installer certification
Aside from product certification, MCS also works to certify the skills, expertise and legitimacy of microgeneration installers. Like the products/suppliers themselves, MCS-approved installers also have to go through a series of assessments in order to become certified. These assessments are designed to ensure individuals/installation companies meet MCS standards for training, competence and quality of workmanship.
3. Compliance with standards
The final pillar of the MCS certification is compliance control. MCS compliance standards cover a range of different criteria that can be used as a checklist for both manufacturers and installers. This includes compliance guidance on safety, environmental impacts and technical performance.
How to find a MCS certified installer
Now we understand the importance of MCS certification, the next question is how to find an MCS-certified installer for your microgeneration project. Whether you are looking for a local solar panel installer or a heating engineer who is able to fit a heat pump in your home or business, there are two main ways to find an MCS-certified installer.
1. Through the MCS installer directory
Your first port of call when looking for an MCS-certified installer should be the MCS installer directory. This handy tool allows you to filter your search by location and technology type, helping you instantly create an initial shortlist.
2. Through your local authority
Another way to find an MCS-approved installer is by contacting your local authority. While many local councils will have lists of MCS-certified installers available on their website, others will require you to contact them directly to get hold of this information. To find contact information for your local authority, visit the GOV.UK website.
Once you have found an installer, it’s always a good idea to check recent customer reviews and testimonials. Usually these can be found online. Although an MCS-accredited installer should, in theory at least, have a good reputation, this additional due diligence can provide valuable insights into the installer's recent reputation and the quality of their work.
Finally, it can be sensible to make sure your chosen installer has adequate public liability and professional indemnity insurance in place. You may also want to check if your installer offers guarantees/warranties for all aspects of the work they carry out for you.
Viessmann’s MCS umbrella scheme - Viessmann Access - enables installers looking at fitting air source heat pump systems to access government funding without the requirement to become MCS-accredited , find out more here.