It was sad news when the government killed the Feed-In Tariff, the guaranteed payments that solar home owners received for generating and exporting solar energy.

There were a lot of complaints when the scheme ended on 1 April 2019, especially when there was nothing to replace it but promises of a new scheme. Fast forward 18 months later and the new scheme is up and running successfully and is known as the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).

Smart Export Guarantee

The SEG came into force on 1 January 2020. It is

‘an obligation set by the government for licensed electricity suppliers to offer a tariff and make payment to small-scale low-carbon generators for electricity exported to the National Grid’ (OFGEM).

In other words, although you no longer get paid on a new solar installation for everything you generate you are paid for everything that you don’t use and which you pass on to the grid. There is no minimum rate for the SEG, except that it must always be above zero.

It’s interesting to note that, like the FIT scheme, you can join the SEG scheme of a supplier that is not your own electricity supplier – e.g. you might buy your electricity from British Gas but choose to get paid to export your electricity by Octopus (as they pay a higher export rate).

Solar Energy UK (previously the Solar Trade Association, STA) is the best source of information on available SEG tariffs:

Currently for most users the best rates are being paid by Octopus (5.5p per unit/kWh), E.On (5.5p) and Bulb (5.38p) but you should always check the latest rates on those web pages.

There is also a good summary of the SEG scheme on the Which website here.

So if you are about to get solar installed, or had it installed since April 2019, you should make sure you sign up to one of these schemes.

While the best way to save money is to use as much of your free solar as you can, to offset paying for full price electricity, these tariffs are a useful way to help pay off your solar by getting paid for the excess solar you weren’t able to use (e.g. if you were out of the house and don’t have a battery). For example if you export about 2000 kWh per year you will get paid about £100 (equivalent to about £2000 over the 20+ year life of the system).

As ever, if you have any questions just ask them in the comments below.