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[ Green light: Renewables Roadshow ]

in a better position to identify what training you would benefit from.

I’m already a registered contractor, why do I need MCS accreditation? Apart from the fact that you would be gaining a recognised badge of credibility for the work you undertake, more importantly, your customers will not be able to gain access to the available financial incentives unless they use an MCS- registered contractor and MCS-approved products. This is a requirement to receiving funding under both Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) and the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

How does the Feed-in Tariff scheme work? As of 1 April 2011, the Feed-in Tariff pays householders 43.3p for every unit of energy that they generate. For energy that is unused and sent back to the grid, there is an additional 3.1p per unit paid. The payment is made from the energy companies and is guaranteed for 25 years; it is indexed linked to inflation and is tax free. To measure the electricity generated, a kilowatt hour generation meter is installed between the supply and the PV system. This payment system, combined with

the savings that a householder can make in importing energy, means that the payback period for a typical three-bedroomed house is now around nine and a half years, or to think of it in another way, about a 10 per cent return on investment.

FITs is under review at the minute, isn’t it? What’s to stop the Feed-in Tariff being axed? The Feed-in Tariff is under review and the payments are likely to reduce in the future for new installations. However, people who are already signed up to FITs are guaranteed to continue to receive their payments. The scheme is currently underwritten by statute, so would require new legislation to revoke it completely. The current review is more about ensuring that the scheme benefits the smaller installations it was designed for (householders and small businesses) rather than the large industrial applications. Recent comments from the government have underlined their commitment to FITs as a way of reaching their EU targets.

I’m interested in getting involved in this sort of work but I’m a bit nervous about the roof work. How do I approach this?

Our approach to assessment is to minimise cost and disruption to you and your business wherever possible

Why not find a reputable roofer in your area to work in partnership with? The National Roofing Federation has trained its members in the basics of installing PV and thermal systems. They’ll turn up on site with the scaffolding and leave with the wires or pipes poking through the roof ready for you to connect up.

Do we need planning permission or will Building Control have to oversee the installation? Normally, planning permission is not required for solar panels on a domestic site, although Building Regulations must be complied with. The exception to this would be installations

in listed building or other types of sites. Other types of renewable technologies (such as wind turbines) would also require planning permission.

What support does the ECA and ELECSA provide to contractors looking to get involved in renewable technologies? The ECA offers a range of nationally accredited training courses all designed to provide valuable information for both technical and non-technical people requiring more information about the renewable markets. For the full range of courses available please go to There is now an MCS Made Easy programme

available to those needing additional help in preparing for their assessment. This is a one day training course with ongoing website support. The course guides you though the requirements of the assessment and helps you to prepare a quality manual to underpin the renewable work you undertake. We have been putting on numerous presentations at seminars, roadshows and exhibitions to help demystify the opportunities presented by the renewable technology sector, and to show contractors how they can get involved. And, of course, we can also provide a robust but friendly MCS assessment service through ELECSA. For more information go to Be assured that if you have a question, you

can be sure that you will get an honest and straightforward answer from ECA and ELECSA.

May 2011 ECA Today 21

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