MCS Certification: solar panel quality scheme in the UK

The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) is a scheme that certifies microgeneration products and installers in the United Kingdom (UK) accordance with a range of MCS standards.

What is the MCS certification mark?

MCS is developed to maintain one standard certification for microgeneration products in the UK, including solar panels. The certification simplifies the choice, and reduces product risk for the consumer. This makes sense, as most consumers do not possess the technical background to filter out any products of inferior quality or rather unsafe solar panels.   [caption id="attachment_2093" align="aligncenter" width="165"]MCS Certification Scheme MCS Certification Scheme[/caption]

Is MCS really needed for solar panels?

Even though there are different quality standards in the UK, MCS stipulations indicate no major different safety and aging requirements for solar panels. Therefore the MCS standards are quite similar to the EN/IEC equivalents. In this regard, one could wonder if the MCS certification is really needed and if MCS is rather an instrument of milking the solar industry than protecting UK customers.

Who is behind MCS?

Strangely enough, there is not much background information on the MCS website. A little more research shows that MCS is run by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC). Well not exactly, the DECC issues a license to a company who can fulfill this role. In this case the independent company Gemserv was appointed by DECC to operate the Microgeneration Scheme. As a licensee, Gemserv is responsible for a variety of tasks, including PR and Promotion of the scheme, running the MCS website, keeping an on-line database of approved products and providing email and telephone support.

Which products need to be certified by MCS in the UK?

MCS certification covers 3 main technologies: electricity generating, heat generating and co-generating (heat and electricity) products. These cover the following products:
  • Small wind turbines
  • Solar PV
  • Micro hydro
  • Solar Thermal
  • Biomass
  • Heat Pumps
  • Biomass
In the future, also hydro turbines, combined heat and power and fuel cell products will be amongst the product for which the MCS standards are set.

Why do PV manufacturers apply for the MCS certification?

Simple enough, a PV manufacturer applies for MCS certification, because it wants access to the UK market. MCS certification is linked to the end-user's financial incentives, and therefore required. The essence of a certification should be to protect the end-user and guarantee certain requirements linked to safety, aging etc. Worth knowing is that before applying for MCS certification, a PV manufacturer will have already obtained the EN / IEC certifications by a respected body, such as TÜV, which already gives access to the European market. One could ask why the manufacturer is forced to spend additional money on the additional MCS certification while it has already obtained the EN / IEC certification of which the quality requirements are also very similar to the MCS. For those manufacturers with a rather weak market presence in the UK, a thorough trade-off calculation between market gains and certification cost is a must.
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