Renewables, the RHI, MCS and its complexities

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Have you ever tried installing a renewable solution and registering this with the CPS scheme, the RHI via Ofgem? If the answer is “yes” then I am sure you will agree it is not the most straight forward process that you could ever experience. If this is all new to you then hopefully some light is about to be shed upon the world of MCS and the RHI.

The structure of the industry results in the duplication of effort; time consuming systems that you are needed to work through, MCS quality systems to adhere to and at the coal face you have to manage the customers’ expectations against the RHI return, which no doubt they are expecting.

So let’s take you through the journey starting with some background information:

The process starts off with the installer needing to register with a Competent Person Scheme and also as an MCS approved organisation to enable them to promote the value of the RHI scheme as a possible return on investment for the homeowner. Therefore you need to have a base knowledge, some core and fundamental appreciation of the MCS quality system and how you must apply this within your business and interactions with the customer. Therefore before you start you need to have some bed time reading in the shape of:

MCS 001 Installer Certification Scheme Requirements
MCS 020 Planning Standards
MCS 023 Additional Requirements for MCS Installers to become Green Deal Authorised
MCS 025 Installer Certification Scheme Competency Criteria Guidance

Once you have read and digested these fundamental building blocks of the MCS quality system, then you can set about attending training and obtaining the competencies and QCF level qualifications needed.

As a business you can then setup your quality system as detailed in MCS 001, not in itself an overnight task. This takes time and an attention to detail, demonstration of a good back office structure and procedures aligned with the requirements of the scheme. Or you can consider buying in some QMSA MCS approved software, spend some time configuring this and take some of the pain away from continuous updates and some of the paperwork burden a manual system generates. In my view a wise investment indeed!

Once you have you quality system in place you will need to register for MCS accreditation, this linked with your Competent Person Scheme registration demonstrates via an audit / assessment that you can meet the standards required by MCS. This will also include an assessment of your installations against the following standards:

Technology Specific Scheme Requirements

Solar Thermal Systems

MIS 3001 Solar Heating Standard 4.2 01.05.2015
MCS 024 Solar Domestic Hot Water Energy Calculation 1.1 16.12.2013
Thermal Solar Performance Energy Calculator
MCS 012 Important Information

Solar PV Systems

MIS 3002 Solar PV Standard 3.3 01.05.2015
Guide to the Installation of Photovoltaic Systems 1.0 07.02.2013
Irradiance Datasets 2.0 24.07.2013
Blank Horizon Chart 1.0 21.02.2013
MCS 012 Important Information

Small and Micro Wind Turbines

MIS 3003 Small and Micro Wind Systems 3.4 01.05.2015

Biomass Systems

MIS 3004 Biomass Standard 4.2 06.05.2015

Heat Pump Systems

MIS 3005 Heat Pump Standard (Mandatory from 26/3/2016) 4.3 06.05.2015
MCS 021 Heat Emitter Guide 2.1 01.05.2015
MIS 3005 Heat Pump Standard 4.1 21.11.2014
MCS 021 Heat Emitter Guide  2.0 21.11.2014
MCS 022 Supplementary Information Ground loop sizing tables 1.0 02.09.2011
Supplementary Tables of Heat Emitter Outputs 1.0 16.12.2013
MGD 002 Guidance for MIS 3005 1.2 20.02.2012

Combined Heat and Power Systems (CHP)

MIS 3007 Heat led Micro CHP Systems 3.2 01.05.2015
MIS 3007-2 Electricity led Micro CHP Systems 2.3 06.05.2015

So just some light reading prior to your first installations and sources of valuable checklists for the installation standards.

Once you have had the back office quality systems audited and your relevant technology installations assessed you are off and running; able to offer quality advice, installations and support to the consumer in the field of renewable technologies. Not so fast – you also need to keep updated of changes and also understand all about heat metres as this will impact on your applications for the RHI. Dependant on the technology it is possible it will be a “deemed payment” or will need a heat metre fitting –all which will impact on the RHI application information needed. Therefore some more bedtime reading as detailed below will be required:

Supplementary Scheme Documents

MIS 3002,
MIS 3003,
MIS 3006,
MIS 3007 2
Electricity Metering Guidance 1.0 27.08.2010
MIS 3001,MIS 3004, MIS 3005 MCS Domestic RHI Metering Guidance Document 1.1 01.05.2015
MIS 3001,MIS 3004, MIS 3005 70kWth Guidance Document 1.0 14.05.2014
ALL Assessment site Eligibility n/a 22.03.2010

So now you are ready, you have joined the schemes, you understand all about the quality system and the installation standards and all the supplementary knowledge dependant on technology. It’s time to do some installs and claim some RHI for your customers. In order to do this “you” will have to explain the RHI and its structure and potential benefits; “you” will need to ensure all the relevant paperwork is submitted to Ofgem and also the installation is registered on the MCS database.

So now you have mastered marketing of the RHI and its benefits and having managed to do the installation to the required standards you are now ready to register for the RHI as you have discussed with the homeowner.

One of the first steps is to ensure all the relevant paperwork such as certificates for the appliance and your own installation certificates are readily available to support the claim. The Ofgem website contains a myriad of information, help sheets and tips to walk you through this process step by step. My advice is before doing this discuss the process with someone with experience, let their experiences guide you and allow you not to fall foul of any mistakes. I have detailed below an extract from one of the Ofgem guides that will give you a flavour of what details you will need to consider:

Step 2: Have you got everything?

While you are filling in the application form, you will need to supply this information:

  • The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certificate number for your heating technology.
  • Your Green Deal Advice Report (GDAR) number (unless you’re a custom-builder – see Custom-builds for information).
  • Your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) number (you’ll get an EPC as part of your Green Deal Advice Report).
  • Your bank details so that we can pay you. Please make sure that the name you use for your application is the same as on your bank account. If you are unsure what information is held on you, you can check here.
  • If you’re a legacy applicant who’s applying for the Domestic RHI for your heat pump, you will be given a deemed Seasonal Performance Factor (SPF) of 2.5. If you would like to apply using a new SPF (as this value directly impacts your payments), you will need to get an MCS installer to reassess the SPF of your heat pump before you apply to the scheme. Your installer will also need to provide you with evidence that it was calculated using the Heat emitter guide (MCS) We’ve created a template to help them do this, as we will ask for this evidence when you apply.

So as you can see being prepared is most definitely the key to ensuring this stage does not become problematic for you and with your customer. Once you have registered the application you and/or the homeowner will receive communications regarding your application and payments. Possibly you may be asked to provide more details or fill in some gaps, either way the RHI application will be well in hand if not completed.

Please be as an installer your job is now also to ensure the homeowner understands the tariff and its duration, what are their own responsibilities regarding maintaining the new renewable solution you have installed and how you can provide support on this. Once this is done you should be able to sit back, admire your work and watch the customer enjoy a well-designed, installed and highly efficient renewable solution, with the added benefits of receiving the RHI.

So as you can see becoming involved with the renewables market takes a lot of focus, patience and dedication and a large amount of investment in time, training and memberships of all the relevant schemes.

Many people ask me why it needs to be as bureaucratic with lots of different agencies and government departments involved such as DECC, REA, RECC, Ofgem, Gemserve and MCS – I honestly don’t know the answer to that. However I do know through meetings I have recently attended with all those named above there is a true desire to streamline this experience for installers and ensure that standards are maintained. Maybe this streamlining can be driven by the governments own initiative to reduce “red tape”. This can only be a good thing for the renewable engineer and the investment, time and dedication needed to work in this sector.

My final bit of advice to anyone working in this sector or looking to diversify into this sector is to do it by the numbers! Ensure you are meeting all the requirements of the various schemes and awarding organisations, invest into quality training, get support from those who have experience in dealing with MCS and the RHI and most of all be patient. Build a network of likeminded people, utilise existing networks and continually learn from each other’s experiences. It’s a good developing industry that will only get better in time, becoming part of this now can only provide you with the rewards and the return on your investment as the market develops further, good luck and watch out for more developments with the RHI and MCS as the market evolves.

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