A poll run on Solar Power Portal in the build up to Solar Energy UK posed the question: To what extend do you agree with the following statement? ‘Current installer standards agencies are supporting the progression of the UK solar PV industry’.

The results make for grim reading for the MCS: 67.08% of readers either disagree or strongly disagree with the statement. 

Kunal Sharma from the MCS administrator, Gemserv took to the stage at Solar Energy UK for the Exploring industry standards: a focus on MCS session to defend MCS’ performance. Sharma told the audience that MCS “has to work on a tightrope of providing confidence and trust to solar stakeholders, glancing this against the effects and costs to comply for those required to comply with it.”

Sharma noted that MCS is required to work within the established certification frameworks and, due to its link with the financial incentives, is seen as the de-facto technical regulator with the EU commission. Sharma added that MCS “cannot create additional barriers over and above EU or International Standards unless justified”.

Chris Roberts, technical specialist at the Solar Trade Association, outlined the trade body’s concerns with the current state of MCS. Roberts stopped short of calling MCS broken, but said that there were a number of issues that needed fixing. 

First and foremost, as MCS is predominantly run by volunteers – Roberts called for the management team to be properly remunerated to stop the MCS being overly reliant on volunteers. 

It’s a point that Griff Thomas, chairman of the MCS standards management committee was keen to stress. He told the gathered audience that all technical working groups are attended on a voluntary basis. 

However, Thomas pointed out that recent changes to the MCS mean that the scheme can operate as a proper legal entity. As a result, Thomas estimated that the body could carry out between 800-1,000 random onsite audits. 

One of the more contentious points is the ongoing delay of MCS012. Asked when it would be likely to be introduced, Sharma told the audience that MCS was applying to the European Union to make sure that the new standards comply with European law. Sharma added that Gemserv was expecting to hear back by “early January at the latest”. 

The Exploring industry standards: a focus on MCS session will be repeated on Thursday 16 October at 14:30-15:30 at the Installer Central Feature Area.