Solar panels and renewable energy: what are the costs and rewards in 2020?

Find out how much solar panels cost and how much could you get paid for generating renewable electricity through the Smart Export Guarantee

Big energy companies have to offer tariffs to pay customers who put renewable electricity they have generated into the grid, in a scheme known as the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). But some are paying over 10 times more than others. This means your earnings could vary by more than £100 for the same amount of electricity, depending on which company you choose. In addition, some firms will only pay for generated renewable electricity, while others will also buy electricity stored in a home battery, some of which may have originally come from the national grid.

Tanjent's PowerBanx X battery storage, in pale grey enclosure (Image: Tanjent)

Tanjent’s PowerBanx X battery storage, in pale grey enclosure (Image: Tanjent)

We contacted 12 of the UK’s biggest energy firms to find out more about their offers and reveal how much you could earn, which companies offer the highest SEG payments, and what types of renewable systems are eligible. To help you decide whether solar panels and the SEG are right for you, we also reveal how much solar panels cost.

What is the Smart Export Guarantee for solar panels?

The Smart Export Guarantee pays households who generate renewable electricity for exporting any that they don’t use to the national grid. It doesn’t just apply to solar panels. Other eligible low-carbon technologies include: wind hydro micro combined heat and power anaerobic digestion. To qualify, your renewable electricity installation must be less than 5MW (50kW for micro-CHP) and be certified (usually by the microgeneration certification scheme). You will need a meter that can measure electricity export so that the company can pay you based on half-hourly readings.

Read more: Which

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