Nancy Jonsson, product manager of heating and renewables at Daikin UK, discusses the potential benefits of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme.

The government’s long-awaited announcement of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) tariffs not only demonstrated its commitment to renewable energy but also underlined the importance of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS).

Projects will only be eligible for domestic RHI payments when the installation is carried out by an MCS-accredited installer using products certified under the scheme. These installer and product standards are designed to ensure that running cost savings are achieved in every project and help drive consumer confidence, which is crucial to the success of both the domestic RHI and the UK renewables industry as a whole.

MCS aims to ensure householders that their systems are designed and installed to the highest standards and to make them fully aware of its characteristics. The Heat Emitter Guide in particular helps installers to explain the impact of emitter selection and design flow temperature on the estimated heating system efficiency to the homeowner.

The most recent update of MCS standards provides clearer guidance for installers, to help them properly assess the heat load and select a heat pump that covers 100% of the heat load at defined outdoor and indoor temperatures. This will maximise heat pump contribution, minimise the use of back-up heaters and make sure heat emitters are designed to run at low flow temperatures to maximise efficiency.

Revisions to the standards are underway with the MCS working groups now reviewing several standards ahead of the launch of the domestic RHI in spring 2014. As part of this, a new Installation Compliance certificate has been proposed, intended for installers to complete for every installation and which will provide information for householders to complete their RHI application. The revisions are currently under consultation and feedback will be analysed in due course before changes are finalised.

Those installers undertaking accredited training, and who can demonstrate their skills and experience, will easily meet MCS accreditation criteria and will surely benefit from the upturn in domestic installations next year.

Ultimately, the success of the domestic RHI will depend upon whether or not homeowners have an appetite for switching to renewables. Despite the many obvious advantages over traditional systems – much higher efficiencies, reduced reliance on fossil fuel supply, as well as lower CO2 emissions and energy bills – choosing a renewable heating system is still a leap of faith and the upfront cost is a barrier for many people.

The current Renewable Heat Premium Payment payments of £1,300 for an air-to-water heat pump and the forthcoming domestic RHI tariffs should help. MCS clearly has a pivotal role to play in the success of both the RHI and the renewables sector as a whole.