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Spreading the green message:


ver the months, the Renewables Roadshow faced plenty of interesting enquiries from members, and here ELECSA experts answer key frequently asked questions about renewables, the Microgeneration Certification Scheme and much more...

What is the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) Assessment? Is it like Part P? Kind of. The MCS scheme was established by the Department for Energy and Climate Change to help reach UK targets to both reduce our carbon emissions and increase our use of renewable technologies. It is like Part P in that it is an annual

assessment of your competence in installing particular renewable technologies (such as solar PV). Where it differs from Part P is that there is more emphasis on what you tell the customer. So a key part of the assessment looks at how you deal with your customer enquiry, the site survey, how you designed your installation, the calculations you made in determining the expected performance of the system and the handover to the customer.

How long does the assessment take? For up to two technologies we can do this in a day, assuming that both technologies are installed at the same site. For each additional technology, an extra half-day assessment will be required. You will be notified of an assessment date within about four to six weeks of your application.

What are the requirements for the site work? How do I get my first site for inspection? Ideally the site should be no more than 20 minutes from your place of work. Any longer and it eats into the overall assessment time – which may mean we have to come back. Getting your first site can be tricky. Your

customer will be eligible for funding/tariffs from the commissioning date of the installed system. Your first installation can be used for your site assessment and still be eligible for funding/tariffs by recommissioning the system once you’ve successfully passed

20 ECA Today May 2011

your assessment. For the benefit of your customer, you may want to consider keeping your assessment date as near to your project completion date as possible.

Can I combine it with my Part P assessment? If you are an existing ELECSA contractor, we will be able to combine your Part P surveillance with an MCS assessment on the same day. For contractors looking to join ELECSA for

both Part P and MCS, we can do this in a day, but your Part P will be restricted to electrical work undertaken in connection with the installation of the renewable technology. If you want to have full scope Part P, this is likely to be an additional half-day assessment on top of your MCS. Our approach to assessment is to minimise cost and disruption to you and your business wherever possible. Please talk to us about your assessment needs and we will work with you to keep the assessment time and cost to a minimum.

Can I subcontract any Part P work? If you’re using a Part P registered contractor, yes, you can subcontract this work, but you may need to think about how you are going to ensure that the subcontracted work meets the scheme requirements and be able to demonstrate this to your assessor.

Do any subcontractors I use also have to be MCS accredited? Other subcontractors that you use do not also have to be MCS accredited, but you will have to demonstrate to the assessor that you have adequate processes in place to determine the competence of the people you use on site.

How often do I need to be inspected? A surveillance visit takes place every 12 months to maintain your registration.

Apart from the costs for assessment, are there any other costs I need to be aware of to be MCS accredited?

There is a license fee payable to Gemserv


frequently asked


(the organisation responsible for managing MCS, who we are licensed by). This is an annual fee of £110 + VAT, which we will collect on their behalf on successful completion of an assessment. There is also a scheme requirement to be

a member of an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) registered code of conduct. To date there is just one, REAL Assurance ( uk). Their quoted prices start at £220 + VAT.

What training do I need to register for MCS? At the moment there is no specific training requirement for MCS assessment, although you do have to demonstrate your competence at assessment, and we advise that undertaking relevant courses goes some way to achieving this. For installation courses we recommend that you look at courses delivered via nationally recognised bodies such as Logic Certification, Bpec or City & Guilds. The ECA has a range of courses available to help you prepare for your assessment (see below).

What training is available?

There are a number of courses out there. Some focus on technical installation and others are aimed at helping you prepare for your assessment through the production of quality manuals. The ECA’s education and training team has its own range of nationally accredited courses available. We recommend that you first download

the assessment standards to ensure you understand what you will need to demonstrate at your assessment. These are free to download from installers/installers. All contractors should read and understand

MCS001, which sets out the certification scheme requirements. In addition, there are a number of MIS standards to cover the technical competences for the individual renewable technology (for example, MIS3002 is the solar PV standard). By familiarising yourself with these

documents, you will be able to understand where your own knowledge gaps are and be

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