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The Full Guide to Your DNO Solar Application

If your solar PV system will be 3.68kWp or bigger, you need a DNO application

There are two different types of applications

Finding the right installer is key to getting through the DNO application process

When you’re planning to have solar panels installed at your home there’s lots to consider. How much will the solar panels cost? Which installer should you use? How many panels should you go for?

Another thing you may not have thought about is whether you need to submit a DNO application. Not all solar panel projects need to submit an application before installation, however if your solar PV system exceeds 3.68kWp of capacity then you’ll need permission.

This guide contains everything you need to know about DNO applications, from how to figure out if you’ll need one to a step-by-step approach to completing one. Your solar panel installer should be able to guide you through the process, so it’s key you find a good and trustworthy one.

If you want to know how much it’ll cost you to get solar panels installed, simply enter a few details in our short form. Our expert installers make it easy by getting back to you directly with bespoke quotes.

Two installers carrying a black solar panel onto a roof

What is a District Network Operator (DNO)?

A DNO is the electricity distributor providing power to your home. They are responsible for maintaining the electricity power lines, both underground and overhead. Unlike an energy supplier such as EDF or OVO Energy, DNOs manage the network infrastructure itself and deliver the electricity to homes.

The UK is split into 14 different district networks covering large geographic regions, each of which is managed by a DNO. Some DNOs manage more than one network, and there are currently six operating across the UK.

Examples of DNOs in the UK include Northern Ireland Electricity, UK Power Networks and Western Power Distribution.

To find out who your local DNO is, complete the Energy Network Association’s postcode checker.

What is a DNO application and why is it important?

If you have installed solar panels on your home and they are generating electricity, you need to let your regional DNO know. The size of your solar installation (above or below 3.68kWp) determines whether you need to make a DNO application before any work is carried out.

This is because the DNO has to monitor fluctuations in the electricity grid. Any overload in the local grid can cause issues, even so far as tripping out the network! As DNOs are responsible for maintaining the grid’s infrastructure, they need to be notified of your solar panels via an application. Your solar installer will usually be able to advise and take care of your application for you.

Also, if you don’t complete a DNO application, you won’t be eligible for Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) payments for excess energy your solar panels may produce, which can be sold directly to an electricity supplier.

Do you have to do a DNO application for solar panels?

UK government guidance states that homeowners must inform their local DNO if they intend to install an energy device on their property, including solar PV, that connects into the local electricity grid.

If your solar scheme is larger than 3.68kWp, the only way you can avoid requiring a DNO application is if you intend to keep your solar energy off-grid, meaning it connects directly into your property only and not into the UK’s electricity system. But it’s rare people choose to go down this route due to the huge costs involved, not to mention a lack of electricity supply in the winter!

There are two types of application, known as G98 and G99, depending on the size of the solar panels installed. As you’d expect, larger systems require a bit more paperwork for their applications than smaller installations.

How to complete your DNO application

The great news is that your solar installer will be able to manage the DNO application for you. There are a few steps to complete in order to make sure the application process goes smoothly.

Step 1 – Ensure your solar installer is appropriately certified

Firstly, it’s really important to ensure you engage a solar panel installer that is registered with an appropriate certification scheme.

Check if the installer you wish to use is registered with a Competent Persons Scheme or through a certified body such as the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). Registering with such a scheme is voluntary for installers and allows them to self-certify that the work they undertake complies with national building regulations.

Always ask for proof of certification before agreeing for any work to be carried out on your property.

Step 2 – Identify whether the DNO application should be submitted BEFORE or AFTER installation 

Once you’ve got a certified contractor in place to install your solar PV, they will be able to advise whether you need to notify the DNO before or after the panels are in place.

‘Connect and notify’ means the DNO application can occur after the installation. This involves completing a G98 application form within 28 days of the solar panels being in place. It is for smaller solar PV systems that are under 3.68kWp in size.

‘Apply to connect’ is for larger installations exceeding 3.68kWp and requires a G99 application. This is because the DNO will need to check whether the grid is able to take the extra electricity load before your system is up and running.

If you submit an ‘apply to connect’ DNO application, it can take up to 11 weeks for your approval to come through, so plan in advance in order to not hold up your solar installation.

Step 3 – Install the solar PV and make sure the installation is registered

Once the solar panels are in place, your installer needs to notify either their competent persons scheme or other certification scheme.

As the device owner, you are responsible for ensuring that your installer has notified the relevant DNO of the solar PV installation being complete – and if it was an ‘apply to connect’ project, that it was granted authorisation before the work was carried out.

Step 4 – Wait for your documentation to come through

Your installer will be able to provide the necessary documentation for your solar PV system, including:

  • Building Regulations Completion Certificate – you’ll need this if you ever sell your property.
  • Installation certificate (provided directly by the installer)

Step 5 – Apply to the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) Scheme

Anyone with a solar PV installation of up to 5MW (megawatts) in Britain can apply to the SEG scheme which allows them to receive payments for electricity they export to the grid. Ofgem provides advice on how to join the scheme.

A silhouette of an electricity pylon against a blue sky in the English countryside

Do you need to do a DNO application for a storage battery installation?

If you’re installing a battery storage system alongside your solar PV, you will also need a DNO application. The process is the same as for solar panels as outlined above and again, your installer will be able to guide you.

Can a DNO application be rejected?

In some cases, applications can require further action if the local grid network doesn’t have capacity to take the excess energy your solar panels produce. This could involve the DNO putting a cap on the amount of energy you are able to export, which would involve installing an export management system and paying a small fee for this to be accepted by the DNO.

Otherwise, if the local electricity infrastructure requires upgrades to take excess energy, there could be quite a large cost involved with facilitating grid upgrades.

Next steps

Before you start the process of installing solar panels on your property, it’s essential to find a decent, certified installer who can guide you through the DNO application process.

There’s not much point installing solar panels on your home if they can’t be connected into the local electricity network! Use our online form to start the process and receive a free quote for solar panels.

Want to get a head start on your solar panel project? Find out how much it’ll cost you to get solar panels installed by entering a few details in our short form. Our expert installers will then get in touch with free bespoke quotes.


Ask your installer for an update if you’re not sure of the status of your DNO application. Once you’ve received approval, the installer will receive a letter and should share this with you.

If you submit an ‘apply to connect’ DNO application, it can take up to 11 weeks for your approval to come through, so plan in advance in order to not hold up your solar installation.

The amount of kW of electricity you can feed back into the grid from your solar PV system depends on where you live and the size of your installation. Your DNO application will have either given you permission to export as much as you generate, or put a limit on your export. Check the paperwork from your installer, or ask them if you aren’t sure.
Written by:
Helen has been working in the UK renewable energy sector since 2016, writing content for a range of audiences across projects including nationally significant solar farms, offshore wind farms, and energy from waste plants. She also works as a consultant and copywriter for some of the UK’s leading renewable developers and energy content creators. Helen is deeply committed to raising awareness of the issues related to climate change and creating a greener, carbon neutral world.
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