Stiebel Eltron: Government microgeneration consultation must not fail

Leading renewable energy product manufacturer Stiebel Eltron is issuing an urgent plea to the Government to thrust investment, skills and the slashing of red tape to the forefront of its Microgeneration industry consultation.

The Government is currently undertaking its second consultation on small-scale power generation. Climate Change Minister Greg Barker launched the new consultation document on the Government's Microgeneration Strategy in December. He said the consultation would ensure that industry and consumers had "the confidence to invest".

However, Stiebel Eltron one of the biggest manufacturers of microgeneration products such as solar panels and heat pumps in the world said it has concerns that momentum behind the sector is flagging. Its UK managing director Mark McManus said:

“The recession is hitting the sector hard and we are still waiting to hear what form the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) will take,” he said. “Therefore there is a massive challenge to incentivise and convince property owners to invest in going green – especially in the numbers required to hit the formidable targets the UK has to hit (see note). Therefore the RHI simply has to be generous enough and well marketed enough to grab the publics’ imagination. This will be one of the biggest tests of the Government’s commitment to microgeneration – and they have to get it right.”

Mr McManus said another message the Government must hear as part of the consultation is that investment in skills training is ‘absolutely critical’.

“Here at Stiebel Eltron we have just opened a £280,000 training academy the Green Energy Training Centre (GETC) which was supported by Government funding and our own private sector investment,” he said. “The GETC is dedicated to giving tradesmen from across the UK the key skills they need to install and operate heat pumps and solar panels. There is without question a huge skills gap and unless that gap is plugged by high quality training the UK will struggle to have the manpower to meet its targets for renewables.”

“Moreover as has been well documented unless equipment is properly specified and installed it does not work effectively. This clearly undermines the credibility of the green industry. Again this is why we are investing in a state of the art training centre to tackle not just the skills shortage but the lack of expertise. Unless funding continues to be committed to skills training the industry will flounder.”

Mr McManus said there is further much frustration in the industry with the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) which all manufacturers and installers must become accredited with.

“The MCS has been swamped in red tape and bureaucracy,” he said. “This is a huge drain on hard pressed business and there is an urgent need to streamline this process and allow firms to get on with the job of manufacturing and installing not endless form filling. This is just a burden on the industry slowing us down.”

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