A Government consultation on microgeneration launched by Minister for Climate Change, Greg Barker, has only served to increase the demand for an answer on the details of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).
Following the launch of the consultation, the Government has announced it will confirm detailed options of the RHI following the Spending Review in October.
Currently, Government estimations expect that over seven million homes in the UK will have some kind of microgeneration installed by 2020. I feel that in order to achieve these estimations it’s vital for the industry to have a clear idea of the need and expected demand for properly trained and qualified engineers in the renewable energy sector.
I believe that the Government is pushing for more self sufficiency on power production and is spending a lot of effort focussing on microgeneration technology. However, this flies directly in the face of the current confusion over the RHI. Everyone is in limbo at the moment waiting on information, this has had a knock-on effect on training and uptake of schemes like the MCS accreditation.
The MCS scheme (explained in detail here) is designed to support the UK’s commitment to cutting dependency on fossil fuels and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. It ensures all installers of microgeneration products, such as air and ground source heat pumps and solar PV, are evaluated against strict criteria.
However, with such ambiguous information currently available to both consumers and installers, it’s not surprising that people are hesitating about investing in renewables, resulting in a stalemate situation between government emissions targets and industry investment in renewable technologies and training.
On the other hand, it is arguable that investment in, and installation of, renewables is inevitably going to grow, and even if the RHI is scrapped, which I feel highly unlikely, Government will put some other kind of incentive driven scheme in place in order to help meet emissions targets.
This latest consultation is looking at four key areas: quality, technology, skills and advice. The Government is keen to support consumers and ensure that the microgeneration products and equipment they buy are reliable. And this is where, from an industry perspective, schemes like MCS come into play. Being able to demonstrate capability and expertise to customers from the outset is more likely to encourage them to install microgeneration products.
If microgeneration is the way forward then we need to have adequately trained and qualified engineers ready in place for when the RHI, or something similar, comes into effect. Given the extensive and detailed nature of the MCS scheme, engineers really need to be focusing on their renewables training now. Not wondering and waiting to take their cue from the outcome of the RHI.
Depending on the measures implemented by the Government, there may well be a rush of people deciding to invest in microgeneration technologies and very few people in the industry able to provide the quality and level of service they expect.
Indeed, it seems the Minister for Climate Change is keen work with the industry and help develop the microgeneration supply chain so that people have the right skills to meet demand, with skills being another of the key areas under discussion and review during the consultation, which closes on 22 December 2010.
An in-depth and rounded discussion on the microgeneration supply chain, industry skills and consumer confidence is unlikely until the announcement of RHI options in October.
However, this is an area of the industry that can only grow and develop. At Logic4Training we’ve recognised the growing trend of renewables and microgeneration technology and our training courses are designed for engineers of all levels who want to upgrade or add to their existing knowledge and services.
The Government may not have announced exactly what its plans are regarding the Renewable Heat Incentive but it’s clear that they are in support of microgeneration technology, and that support needs to be reflected by engineers across the industry.