Recent feedback from plumbers and heating engineers involved in the solar thermal industry has been very negative regarding the governments’ Low Carbon Buildings Scheme. The government has allocated £87 million of funding to be spent on solar thermal systems in the UK, but it is not being implemented as there are only 31 plumbers that are approved installers under the scheme.
It is claimed that the government has had to extend the length of the scheme hoping that the allocated grants will be used up, and it is still trying to convince plumbers and installers that the joining fee of £1,800 is fair, even though there is an extra £600 per day inspection charge.
Senior figures in the plumbing and heating industry commented that “the plumbing and heating industry has been arguing for a long time that the scheme is too expensive and complicated for small plumbers and installers to join and benefit from. The scheme has effectively turned into a barrier for small plumbers and installers rather than help build a qualified base of plumbers and solar thermal installers.”
The government scheme, also known as the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), has been set up to develop a list of solar thermal installation plumbers that meet strict criteria and to ensure that both the plumbers and the products they use provide good value to the consumers. It was intended that the scheme would provide greater protection for consumers and ensure the government funds are used effectively.
The official aim of the Microgeneration Scheme is to build a rapidly growing microgeneration industry based on quality and reliability and to make a substantial contribution to cutting the nation’s dependency on fossil fuels. In addition, the scheme is to provide end consumer confidence that products and installers meet robust standards to grow the microgeneration industry.
Critics of the scheme claim that so far, the scheme has failed to achieve any of these targets and subsequently it should be called off immediately. Plumbers and installers already have to meet strict criteria in order to get certified for the building regulations standard and it would make more sense to extend those standards further to cover microgeneration technologies.