Paul Joyner, Managing Director of SBS, discusses the increased interest in MCS accreditations since the launch of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) in April 2014 and what it could mean for installers.
With £2.7 billion of funding available to inspire an anticipated 750,000 installations by 2020, our expectations of the RHI were high – a 37% increase in uptake of MCS applications for certification through our partner NICEIC, is an encouraging sign that our optimism was well-placed.
Colleagues from Solfex and other brand suppliers have commented that although a similar boost in product sales hasn’t yet become apparent, there has been notable interest from installers who’ve begun to gather information and form partnerships which will enable them to deliver the required services. The Solfex team are also seeing a number of solar PV companies preparing to enter the heat generation market, whilst they believe sales of biomass boilers will continue to increase followed by heat pumps and solar thermal panels.
Our training partners at PPL Training would agree with this prediction from Solfex; they have seen a 68% increase in solar thermal course bookings from quarter four in 2013 to quarter one in 2014, and a 77% increase in heat pump course bookings within the same time-frame.
However, there’s an ongoing problem in terms of training and successful RHI applications. Of the 1,080 domestic RHI applications that were received in the first month of its introduction to the domestic sector, DECC has reported that 4% failed and 5% were rejected. This indicates that there is an on-going challenge to over-come in terms of gaining the skills and knowledge required for an approved application.
I believe that the uptake of MCS accreditations can be largely attributed to the domestic introduction of the RHI; the industry is recognising that this is a great opportunity for installers to maximise their income by adapting their business to cover all aspects of each RHI project – the assessment, the retrofitting of the building fabric, and the installation of the heat pump, biomass, or solar thermal technology. It is the responsibility of industry players, such as the Travis Perkins Group, to continue providing solutions to aid expectations that the RHI will do for the renewable heating sector what Feed In Tariffs did for solar photovoltaics.
Fortunately, the problems around training and successful applications can be solved. There has been growing interest in the MCS mentoring and support offered by ‘Easy MCSTM’ – this has noticeably increased since April 2014 and supports our belief that contractors and installers do want to take advantage of the RHI, but need additional support to maximise their time and financial investment.