Can You Get Free Solar Panels and Solar Panel Grants in 2018?

DISCLAIMER: Our partners no longer take appointments for homeowners looking to benefit from the Feed-in Tariff, which is due to end on 31st March 2019

Free solar panels no longer exist, but the Feed-in Tariff allows you to earn and save up to £6,850 over 25 years for the energy produced by your panels.

The Government's Feed-in Tariff helps households with solar panels make a healthy return on investment. But with the scheme being scrapped next year, what does that mean for you? And is it too late for you to still cash in on green energy?

Anyone already registered by 31 March 2019 is protected, so you can still get on board. Thousands of people use The Eco Experts to find local solar panel installers each year through our simple quote-finder tool, which you'll find at the top of this page.



In This Guide to Free Solar Panels and Government Grants in 2018:



1. Can You Still Get Free Solar Panels in 2018?

free solar panels

The short answer: unfortunately not.

Free solar panel schemes - or rent-a-roof schemes - were common a few years back when solar panel installations were at their peak. These schemes were offered by companies wanting to cash in on payments from the Feed-in Tariff.

Companies would rent your roof for up to 25 years and, in exchange, would install solar panels and maintain them for the entire period of the rental. This meant you didn’t need to pay a penny towards the cost of your solar panels, but could still benefit from the free electricity they produced. The catch was that these companies would keep all the Feed-in Tariff payments your home’s solar panels earned.

But these free solar panel schemes are no longer available. Since the Government cut the Feed-in Tariff payments by 64% back in 2016, offering free solar panels to homeowners became much less attractive to companies because the profit they could earn was slashed significantly.


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2. Are There Any Government Grants for Solar Panels in 2018?

government grants for solar panels

The answer: again, unfortunately not.

Back in 2013, the Government launched the Green Deal; a policy designed to help homeowners make energy-efficient improvements to help cut their spend on energy bills. These energy-efficient improvements included the installation of solar panels.

You were given a loan from the Government to install solar panels, and paid it back over 10 to 25 years using the money you saved on your energy bills each month. This meant there was no upfront cost for the solar panels and you could still earn payments from the Feed-in Tariff.

In 2015, however, the Government scrapped the Green Deal as it had failed to deliver its objectives due to a lack of interest from homeowners.

But don’t despair! The Feed-in Tariff is still available until April 2019, and has become much more attractive because the price of solar panels has plummeted over the years. This means it’s now much quicker to make a return on your investment and, of course, you can still look forward to much lower energy bills.


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3. What Is the Feed-In Tariff?

The Feed-in Tariff (FiT) rewards homeowners who install solar panels, by paying you for the electricity they generate.

In order to promote renewable energy, and make it more affordable, you would get paid for:

• Every kWh of electricity produced by your solar panels that you use (the Generation Tariff)

• Every kWh of electricity produced by your solar panels that you don’t use and give back to the National Grid (the Export Tariff)

How Does the Scheme Work?

According to Ofgem, the money you receive is tax free and index linked. The scheme applies for 20 years and you can expect a good return on investment.

Remember: solar panels last for around 25 years, in which time you can still save money on your energy bills after the FiT payments stop. Typically, you can earn between £2,350 and £6,900 over 25 years, depending on how many solar panels you install.

Watch this short video to find out how the Feed-in Tariff earns you money.




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4. Is the Feed-In Tariff Ending?

DISCLAIMER: Our partners no longer take appointments for homeowners looking to benefit from the Feed-in Tariff, which is due to end on 31st March 2019

Unfortunately, yes. The Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced this year that the Government would be closing the FiT scheme to new applicants from 31 March 2019, although existing users would still benefit from the scheme.



5. What Does that Mean For Me?

As long as you install your solar panels, and get accepted onto the Feed-In Tariff before the deadline in 2019, the changes to the scheme won't touch you, and you'll be guaranteed payments from the Government for 20 years.

But make sure you don't waste any more time if you interested in this scheme. Remember it can take anywhere between one to three months to register for feed-in payments, get your application accepted, and have your solar panels installed.



6. Is It Still Worth Getting Solar Panels?

is it still worth getting solar panels

Because the cost of solar panels has fallen by as much as 70% since 2010, solar panels now make financial sense on their own without the need for funding from the Government. The Government has therefore decided to end the Feed-in Tariff in April 2019, making this a prime time to invest in solar panels before the FiT is scrapped.

The Feed-in Tariff rate for new applicants is reduced every 3 months. Once you register your solar panels for the FiT, you’re guaranteed payments for the 20 years regardless of any future cuts to the Tariff. If you’re considering installing solar panels on your home, act soon to lock in the current Tariff rate for this quarter before it gets reduced.

In January 2018, we surveyed 390 UK homeowners with solar panels and 81% said that they'd still install them even if the FiT didn't exist. This shows that the majority of homeowners believe solar panels are still a worthwhile investment even without the Government's monetary incentive.

The Feed-in Tariff rates for October to December 2018 are:

Generation Tariff Rate
Export Tariff Rate
3.86p per kWh of electricity
5.24p per kWh of electricity


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7. How Do I Apply?

Are you eligible? To apply for the FiT Tariff, you need to have or be installing one of these five types of renewable energy sources:

  1. Solar photo-voltaic (Solar PV)
  2. Wind
  3. Micro combined heat and power (CHP)
  4. Hydro
  5. Anaerobic digestion (AD)

If you are installing solar panels for your home or small business, you apply through your energy provider. This is called Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certified installations, and Ofgem provides a list of all the signed-up energy companies.


Lock In the Best Feed-in Tariff Rates Now

See how much solar panels would cost for your home by answering the question below.

How much could you save with Solar Panels? What's your average monthly electricity bill?


Good to know: there’s a cap on annual spending for the Feed-in Tariff. This cap limits the amount of solar panels that can be registered for the Feed-in Tariff each quarter. Applications after the cap is reached will be placed in a queue for the next quarter.


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8. How Much Can You Earn from the Feed-in Tariff?

The Feed-in tariff is guaranteed for 20 years. Find out below how much you could save if you install a 4kW solar system (made up of 16 solar panels) costing £6,000:

Savings per Year:

Source of Income
Earnings for Installations Oct to Dec 2018
Generation Tariff
£140
Export Tariff
£95
Energy Bill Savings
£104
Total Per Year
£339

*based on installation on a south facing roof with no shade and a monthly household electricity bill of £50


Savings Over 20 years:

Year
Earnings for Installations Oct to Dec 2018
Profit/Loss for Installations Oct to Dec 2018
One
£339
-£5,661
Five
£1,695
-£4,305
Ten
£3,390
-£2,610
Fifteen
£5,085
-£915
Twenty
£6,780
+£780

*based on installation on a south facing roof with no shade and a monthly household electricity bill of £50


You could also make further savings by installing a solar battery. Learn more about solar panels combined with a battery system.


How much could you save with Solar Panels? What's your average monthly electricity bill?


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