The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) is preparing for the launch of the domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI) in spring next year by introducing new heat technology standards and competency criteria.

MCS believes that the ‘key’ new initiatives will help installers in the UK take better advantage of the upcoming RHI.

As a result of ongoing work from various MCS working groups, the installer standards for heat technologies under the RHI (biomass, solar thermal and heat pumps) have been modified. The biggest change is the introduction of compliance certificates – these will be used as a checklist for installation companies to ensure that the installation is to the relevant Microgeneration Installation Standard (MIS).

In addition to the changes in heat technology standards, MCS is introducing new competency criteria that will come into effect on 16 March 2014. The criteria is designed to bridge the gap between a company’s certification and the competence of its operatives.

MCS hopes it will make it easier for installers to become certified as well as identify the path to up-skill and re-skill in response to market changes. In support of the new criteria, MCS will be making available a free online ‘Competency Checker Tool’ to support installers, identify which roles and criteria they already fulfil, and what evidence they need to assemble to present to the MCS certification board for evaluation.

The competency criteria will apply to all new certifications from 16 March 2014; existing installers will have a transition period of up to three surveillance visits to work to the new criteria.

Commenting on the new MCS measures, Tony Bowen, chair of MCSWG6, and president of the Heat Pump Association, said: “MCS has been one of the best kept recent secrets. For more than seven years the heat pump industry has been working collaboratively to produce strict product and installer standards. Why? To underwrite a good customer experience and ensure that lesser known technologies do not suffer from the 'fear of the unknown'.

“Manufacturers have spent millions on third party testing of their products to the MCS criteria, installers have invested in the expertise of their staff by extensive training. The result – customers using MCS installers can be comfortable that they are being offered quality products according to a laid down procedure which they themselves can see on the MCS website. This is a remarkable step for UK industry, and we look forward to the public coming to understand its real value.”

In addition to the new measures, MCS updated a number of other installer standards including, guidance on heat metering, a heat emitter guide and MCS 012. The full range of updates can be viewed on the MCS website.