Microgeneration: Solar Energy

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform written question – answered on 21st April 2008.

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Photo of Dai Davies Dai Davies Independent, Blaenau Gwent

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what (a) assessment he has made of the complexity and (b) estimate he has made of the cost of participation in the microgeneration certification scheme to solar technology suppliers interested in qualifying for the low carbon buildings programme.

Photo of Malcolm Wicks Malcolm Wicks Minister of State (Energy), Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform

The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) was designed in consultation with key stakeholders, including representatives of the solar thermal industry. MCS scheme standards and requirements have been set by an industry-led Steering Group and expert working groups. The scheme's principal objective is to provide information and assurance to consumers unfamiliar with these technologies, by ensuring that products and companies eligible for grants, meet more robust standards.

MCS is working towards accreditation by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS), which, to an extent, places certain requirements on the scheme in order to comply with EN 45011. UKAS accreditation should help to deliver the quality and reliability that the Government and consumers want to see in the microgeneration market.

UKAS is appointed in the UK to assess and accredit the activities of third party certification bodies against internationally agreed standards. The costs of certification under MCS are determined according to the same International Accreditation Forum guidelines used for other equivalent UKAS accredited schemes which operate in other industry sectors.

As part of the development of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, the Department provided £350,000 to give 50 per cent. discounts to installer businesses during the first year (reducing first year costs to £900). Discounts have been offered to 250 Clear Skies/PV programme installers who applied before 31 January 2008. The remainder of the £350,000 has been allocated to support 139 new installers, on a first-come, first-served basis (with a 50 per cent. discount). Discounts are payable on successful completion of the MCS assessment. Further funding of £250,000 remains to be allocated, following discussions with the MCS Steering Group.

After September 2008, MCS will be opened up to other certification bodies and the Department hopes to see further cost reductions coming from open competition.

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