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HETAS set for microgeneration role

Manufacturers and installers will soon be able to use HETAS to apply for accreditation through the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) held a meeting on Tuesday to discuss opening up the MCS to other bodies from September as long as they complied with UKAS requirements.

On Wednesday HETAS - the official Government recognised body for approving solid fuel domestic heating appliances, fuels and services - became the first organisation to confirm it will be expanding its appliance approval and installer schemes to MCS.

Bruce Allen, HETAS chief executive, said: “There will be huge benefits for installers in that they can access the HETAS Competent Persons self-certification scheme and MCS scheme through one organisation.”

Mr Allen said the meeting with BERR had been “very positive” although there were no “concrete answers” on how long it would take to get clearance to offer the scheme for  biomass when MCS is opened up to other accreditation bodies from the end of September.

Despite this he said he was confident HETAS would be offering MCS by early next year.
He said: “It has always been frustrating the way this was set up originally as a monopoly with BERR agreeing a deal with BRE.

“We are pleased that contract has come to an end. We have been ready for this for a long time.”
Over the past two years MCS has been developed by BRE with standards developed by a steering group including bodies such as HETAS and industry experts.

Until now installers and manufacturers have only been able to apply for MCS accreditation through BRE.

There have been criticisms the scheme run by BRE has been too expensive, but BERR and BRE argue robust standards are needed to build consumer confidence by ensuring installations are completed correctly.

Mr Allen cannot confirm whether the HETAS scheme will be less expensive, but he argued there were opportunities to reduce the financial and bureaucratic burden on installers and manufacturers.

He said: “There are economies of scale as some of the processes that manufacturers and installers have to go through for MCS they already have to go through for HETAS. MCS will only be adding a little to what they are already asked to do.”

Apart from biomass, the MCS covers installers and products for technologies including wind, solar thermal, heat pump and solar photovoltaic.

MCS accreditation is needed to access grants within the Low Carbon Building Programme and the Government has indicated that MCS will be used for future incentive schemes.

Mr Allen said he hoped HETAS could help MCS become a success: “I think it is a matter of reputation – if we do not get mainstream installers registered and doing work properly the reputation of this technology will suffer.

“It (MCS) is a useful tool as long as long as it is seen as mainstream rather than something special and different. Integrating it with the mainstream will make it a part of everyone’s everyday life.

“We are very much in favour of a mechanism and if this is the only one we have got then let’s go for it.'