Solar news 22 September 2011: Will UK’s old solar MCS regulations be changed soon?
Some influential members of the “traditionally-built” old solar-heating lunch-club have put the brakes on the UK solar thermal market for over a decade, to the detriment:
- of free speech (I have been ordered by solar industry top brass to shut op or face “action”, which has turned out to be nasty),
- of innovators (not only ourselves but other solar innovators)
- of consumers (eg in areas of both safety and information, such as on solar installation performance, maintenance, and money savings).
My suggestions for improvement in UK’s solar water heating standard (called MCS MIC 3001) include:
- Solar Legionella safety alignment of wording to mention HSE Approved Code of Practice and Guidance on Legionellosis document ACOP L8 (as the MCS heatpump standard did last week).
- Allowing MCS installers to validate third party domestic solar heating installations. A hands-off approach already happens for trade only and so today’s rules are blocking MCS accreditation of simple installations which are being done by other competent people. If your solar heating installation “does what it says on the tin” then it deserves an MCS certificate – and a subsidy.
- Temporarily deleting a market limiting reference to EST’s flawed CE 131 solar water heating guidance document, until it is updated (EST have acknowledged that it is flawed. See our notes on its annotated version below.
- Making sure that solar panel installer training requirements are actually relevant to particular solar water heating technologies (ie not all have mains leccy, antifreeze, high pressure, etc) This will ultimately save the solar thermal consumer money by not requiring irrelevant installer qualifications.
- Getting rid of solar red tape which takes the form of a burdensome formal quality management system, for solar installation micro-businesses of 4 people or less.
- Perhaps in return for this red tape cut, improving and extending consumer information about solar panel microgeneration vastly, including:
- By ending the mains pump power concealment in the solar thermal system energy performance estimate (where the “SAP 75kWh pump figure” was, er, omitted). This change will reduce fraudulent performance claims and save the taxpayer money from paying out money for non-existent energy benefit under DECC’s RHI solar panel subsidy scheme phase 2.
- By introducing relevant geographic variations in the energy performance estimate of solar panels, as Which? magazine has asked. This means that in Cornwall your solar performance estimations will be higher.
- By MCS installers telling consumers plenty of real useful information about maintenance, running costs, and environmental performance in several new areas including “life cycle analysis” and “years to breakeven” for “embodied energy and carbon” for solar panel installations which make hot water.
Yesterday I formally offered these suggestions, in a more wordy technical format, to the Microgeneration Certification Scheme. This is an industry-led, self-regulating organisation which may or may not choose to adopt some or all of them. Or it might kick them into the long grass.
What will happen?
Because of MCS secrecy rules, members of the public, many of whom who support the principle of open government, will not be able to find out if any of them are accepted until the next version, if any, of MCS’s MIS 3001 solar water heating installation specification is eventually published.
I hope that this is interesting. Incidentally, outside the above MCS solar heating installer envelope, I have also asked, for at least the sixth time, for MCS to be categoric about convergence with BSI‘s far better procedures and approaches to innovation, which has not been taken on board, also about disclosure related to freemasonry, which has, predictably, been fudged to mean: not unless they want to.
Incidentally, I am the founding and sole member of regarding the Praiseworthy International Society of Secrecy. Whoops! Now I must expel myself for disclosure.
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