The Best Smart Export Guarantee Rates 2023 Written by Josh Jackman Reviewed by Charlie Clissitt Updated on 20 July 2023 ✔ Big energy suppliers must pay you for your excess renewable energy✔ The best Smart Export Guarantee rate right now is 29.3p per kWh✔ The average home will make £159 per year from this schemeHomeowners are making money by selling their unused solar energy – and you should too. It'll even help combat the initial cost of solar panels.Large energy suppliers in the UK are obliged to pay households for renewable energy they export to the National Grid, under the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme.On this page, we’ll tell you how the SEG works, whether you’re eligible for it, and how much you could earn.If you'd like to start benefiting from the SEG, you can fill in this form with a few details, and our trusted suppliers will contact you with free solar panel quotes. Where do you want to install solar panels? Roof Ground Both Other / not sure Get started What's on this page? 01 Smart Export Guarantee rates 02 What is the Smart Export Guarantee? 03 How much money can you earn? 04 How do you qualify and sign up? 05 Will the SEG increase? 06 Next steps 07 FAQs Smart Export Guarantee rates13 companies are licensed to offer SEG rates, which can be any amount above zero.This includes 11 which are compelled to, as they have at least 150,000 domestic electricity customers, and two – Pozitive Energy and Rebel Energy – that have voluntarily agreed to offer tariffs, though Rebel's tariff is not publicly available.Another supplier, Good Energy, offers an export tariff that's isn't connected to the SEG but is the same in every other sense, so we've included it.Here are the best and worst SEG rates out there, as of October 2023.Energy supplierPrice (p/kWh)Name of tariffOctopus (own customers)29.3*Intelligent Octopus FluxOctopus (own customers)24*Octopus FluxOVO (own solar customers with a battery)20OVO SEG TariffGood Energy (own solar customers)20Solar Savings ExclusiveSo Energy (own solar customers)20Smart Export Guarantee TariffE.On (own customers)16.5Next Export ExclusiveOctopus (own customers)15Outgoing FixedOVO (own solar customers)15OVO SEG TariffScottish Power (own customers)15SmartGen+British Gas (own customers)15Export and Earn PlusGood Energy (own customers on SVT)15Solar SavingsScottish Power (non-customers)12SmartGenOctopus (own customers on Go tariff)8Outgoing Fixed LiteSo Energy7.5So Export FlexBritish Gas (non-customers)6.4Export & Earn FlexEDF (own customers)5.6Export Variable ValuePozitive Energy5SEG tariffOctopus (non-customers)4.1Outgoing GoOVO (non-customers)4OVO SEG TariffShell Energy3.5SEG V1.1 TariffUtilita3Utilita Smart Export GuaranteeEDF (non-customers)3Export VariableE.ON (non-customers)3Next ExportUtility Warehouse2UW Smart Export Guarantee - StandardE1E SEG January2020v.1We update our SEG table regularly. Last updated on 27 October 2023.* This tariff is variable and includes an off-peak period, so this is a representative rate What is the Smart Export Guarantee?The Smart Export Guarantee is a government-backed initiative that compels large energy suppliers to pay homeowners for renewable energy they send back to the National Grid.If you produce energy with solar panels, wind turbines, micro combined heat and power, hydro, or anaerobic digestion, you can request payments from one of more than a dozen companies.This scheme is hugely beneficial to homeowners looking to save money with solar.SEG began in January 2020 as a replacement for the defunct Feed-in Tariff (FiT), but works differently – mainly because it puts the responsibility on consumers to choose the best rate.It’s especially profitable for anyone with solar panels, because unless you have a solar battery, you’ll likely export half of your power back to the Grid – so why not get paid for it?As an alternative, some people prefer to use a solar diverter to deal with excess energy – a device used to direct excess electricity generated by the solar panels towards a specific load or appliance. Where do you want to install solar panels? Roof Ground Both Other / not sure Get started What’s the best Smart Export Guarantee rate?Octopus offers the best SEG rate, paying around 29.3p for every kWh of renewable electricity a household sends to the Grid, on average.This barrier-breaking variable tariff charges solar panel owners the same amount to send them electricity as it pays them for their excess solar energy.It's only available to Octopus customers, though – households with other import suppliers will receive 4.1p per kWh.The best SEG rate that anyone can access is Scottish Power's 12p per kWh tariff, called SmartGen.Octopus’s Christina Hess explained to The Eco Experts that the company can't pay customers of other suppliers the same rate because “it takes a lot of effort to set up an export tariff – the process is therefore quite costly for us.“However, if a customer also imports electricity from us, we’re more likely to make a margin (please note that due to the current grid set up of network admin, levies and distribution costs it’s usually net negative for us to offer any kind of export tariff).“This means that we are able to offer a better rate to customers who export and import electricity through us.” Did You Know? The best SEG tariff for anyone who doesn't want to change energy supplier is Scottish Power's 12p per kWh rate.This tariff is available to everyone, regardless of who provides your grid electricity. Loading Want to get a better idea of what it’s like to own a set of solar panels? Check out our case study with Shirley Ward – a 73-year-old retired office worker, based in North Yorkshire. Shirley has a 2.4 kW solar array and a Solax battery, and managed to break even on the system in 10 years. Despite electricity prices increasing around the world, Shirley’s panels have brought her energy bills down to £15 a month, instead of £50. Check out the full interview with Shirley to learn more about solar panels. What’s the worst Smart Export Guarantee rate?E pays the least for your renewable energy, handing over just 1p per kWh.The Eco Experts understand E, which has 300,000 customers across the UK, is not trying to be competitive in this space, and is simply trying fulfilling its legal obligation.It’s also worth mentioning EDF and E.ON’s paltry 3p per kWh rates, which are less than half the average for suppliers who have to provide SEG rates, despite the two companies making billions in profits over the past year.In July 2022, after two and a half years of only offering this low tariff, EDF created an additional rate – though only for its own import customers. The Export Variable Value pays 5.6p per kWh.Can you choose any supplier for the SEG?You can choose any supplier for your SEG tariff – though some have rates that are only available to their own customers.Companies like Octopus, Scottish Power, EDF, and E.ON offer higher tariffs to households that receive electricity from them.And suppliers such as OVO, Good Energy, and So Energy provide better rates to homes that used them for their solar installation.Pick the best rate you can access in the table above, then go for it. How much money can you earn from the Smart Export Guarantee?The average owner of a three-bedroom house with a 3.5 kWp solar panel system will earn £159 per year from the Smart Export Guarantee on Scottish Power's 12p per kWh rate, which anyone can sign up for.However, your household isn’t average – so we’ve created tables that show how you can expect the size and location of your home to affect your SEG earnings.SEG income based on size of solar panel systemHouse sizeNo of panelsSystem kWpAnnual SEG profit (£)1-2 bedrooms62.1£953 bedrooms103.5£1594+ bedrooms144.9£222As long as you buy the right size solar panel system for your home and pay a fair price (around £786 per panel), you should break even in little over a decade, regardless of your home's size.However, the number of solar panels you have is vital in working out how much you’ll make from the SEG each year.SEG income based on property locationLocation is another crucial aspect in determining how much you’ll receive in annual SEG payments.There can be as much as a 36% difference in how much you’re paid, purely because of how much sunshine you get where you live – though even in if you're getting solar panels in Scotland, it's still worth it.Here’s how much the owner of a 3.5 kWp system (which you’d typically put on a three-bedroom house) can expect to be paid annually in different parts of the UK.RegionSEG paymentYears to break evenSouth Wales£18113.21South East England£17913.42Midlands£15615.35North West England£15715.26North Scotland£13317.99If you want to take advantage of SEG payments, you can fill in this form with a few details, and our trusted suppliers will contact you with free solar panel quotes.How is SEG income paid to you?If your SEG company also supplies your electricity, your payment may come in the form of a deduction from your monthly energy bill. If not, you’ll be paid by bank transfer.Suppliers are allowed to choose how frequently they send these transfers – and they vary enormously.For example, Scottish Power will pay you monthly, OVO’s payments are quarterly (as are E.ON’s, as long as you request them each time), and Shell will pay you annually – though it'll only send you payments in May.Make sure you check how often your SEG supplier intends to pay you.Is SEG income taxable?Your SEG income will be exempt from tax, as long as:Your solar array is located on a domestic property you own, or nearbyYou don’t intend for your panels to produce significantly more solar power (usually interpreted as 20% more) than the amount of electricity you consume at homeIf your installation doesn’t match these requirements, you may still be exempt.You can class your SEG payments as trading and miscellaneous income, and provided your total income in this category doesn’t exceed £1,000, you won’t have to report it to HMRC. How do you qualify and sign up for the SEG?You can qualify for SEG payments if you generate energy in any of the following ways:Solar panelsWind turbinesMicro combined heat and powerHydroAnaerobic digestionYour installation must have a maximum capacity of 5 MW – which is far higher than any domestic property should require – unless it’s a micro combined heat and power installation, in which case the upper limit is 50 kW.You must provide your Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certificate, or an equivalent document.If you don’t have this kind of certificate, make sure that your installation and installer are certified. Ask your chosen SEG company what information you need to provide.You must also have an export meter – that is, a meter that’s capable of measuring your exported electricity.If you have a smart meter, that automatically qualifies. If not, check that your meter is eligible with your SEG supplier, as most will require you to have a smart meter before you receive payments.You’ll also need to give your SEG company your export MPAN – a 13-number reference that your supplier can use to identify your electricity connection point.If you’re unsure about where you can find the export MPAN, just ask your supplier.This list may seem intimidating, but it’s simple, we promise. Just contact your chosen supplier, follow their requirements, fill in their application form, and you’ll be accepting SEG payments in no time.Do you need a smart meter in order to receive SEG payments?Some suppliers do require you to have a smart meter in order to receive SEG payments.Having one will also ensure you’re paid accurately for the energy you export, and will mean you don’t have to take manual readings – plus it may soon become compulsory.What is the difference between the Feed-in Tariff and the Smart Export Guarantee?The Smart Export Guarantee is an export tariff that suppliers pay you for the renewable energy you send to the Grid.The Feed-in Tariff (FiT) offered this as well – but it also compelled suppliers to pay a generation tariff.That means FiT recipients were paid for all the renewable power they produced, as well as receiving export payments for the green energy they sent to the Grid.In the FiT era, the export tariff was paid on the assumption that households would export 50% of the renewable energy they generated, and it was paid on a standard rate.In these SEG times, you’ll receive a different rate depending on which supplier you choose, and you'll be paid based on the amount of electricity you actually export, rather than an assumed 50%.The other main difference between the two is that the FiT was funded by a tax on all consumers’ energy bills, while the SEG is paid for by suppliers.What happens if you’re already earning FiT payments?You can continue receiving generation tariff income regardless of whether you’re on an SEG tariff or not, but you can’t get both FiT and SEG export payments.Though the FiT ended in March 2019, customers who signed up before that date can still receive payments for the duration of their contract, which is usually 20 years.Once every 12 months, you can switch from your FiT export tariff to the SEG – but we only recommend taking this step if you’re sure it will lead to higher payments.Is the Smart Export Guarantee good enough?The Smart Export Guarantee is a positive development, but it goes nowhere near far enough to reward solar households or encourage prospective buyers.The best Smart Export Guarantee tariff is Octopus’s 29.3p per kWh average offering, nearly meeting the standard rate consumers pay for electricity, which is currently 27.35p per kWh.However, if you're not an Octopus customer, you'll have to use one of the other rates – and for most consumers, the highest available tariff is 12p per kWh from Scottish Power.That means the Smart Export Guarantee allows companies to buy electricity from you for, on average, less than half the price they charge you.At worst (yes E, we’re looking at you), you're being underpaid by 96%.Scottish Power's 12p rate is at least much higher than the Feed-in Tariff’s last export rate, which was 3.8p per kWh when it ended in 2019.That shouldn’t be the benchmark, though. Energy prices have risen too far, too quickly for that number to be relevant.The government rightly stepped in to ensure your unused solar power isn’t sent to the Grid for free, but solar panel owners are still being massively underpaid for the electricity they generate. Will the Smart Export Guarantee increase?Eight of the 13 Smart Export Guarantee suppliers have raised their rates since the start of 2023, and will continue to do so.As a result of increasing their tariffs or introducing new, higher ones, Octopus, and Scottish Power now offer the best rates on the market.However, many companies have long refused to raise their rates, and are exploiting customers as a result. Shell pays eight times less than they should, while Utility Warehouse pays 14 times less.Overall, energy companies currently pay households 35% of what their solar energy is worth. That's outrageous.You should still sign up for an SEG tariff, because otherwise you're leaving free money on the table – but your solar power is worth more than this. Next stepsArmed with this knowledge, you’re fully prepared to generate your own solar power and make money while doing it.All you need to do now is to choose an SEG supplier – and of course, get some solar panels installed.With 65% of people telling our latest National Home Energy Survey they're willing to buy a house with solar panels, there's never been a better time.Just fill in this form with a few details, and our expert suppliers will be in touch with free solar panel quotes. FAQs Can you still get a grant for solar panels? You may be able to get a grant for solar panels through the government's ECO4 scheme.However, ECO4 will only fund the installation of solar panels in electrically heated homes, and only if a biomass machine or District Heat Network has been ruled out. Can I get free solar panels in the UK? You can get free solar panels through the government's ECO4 scheme, but only if your home is electrically heated, and only if authorities find you're unable to use a biomass boiler or District Heat Network. How do you qualify for a solar grant? You can qualify for the ECO4 solar grant if your home is electrically heated, and if you receive at least one of the following benefits:Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)Income-related Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)Income Support (IS)Pension Credit GuaranteeCredit Working Tax Credit (WTC)Child Tax Credits (CTC)Universal Credit (UC)Housing BenefitPension Credit Savings CreditDepartment of Work and Pension (DWP) benefits Is it still worth installing solar panels in the UK? It's still worth installing solar panels in the UK, as they'll cut 70% off your electricity bills, on average.This means you'll typically break even in 15.1 years, while saving thousands of pounds in energy costs. Written by: Josh Jackman Lead Writer Josh has written about eco-friendly home improvements and climate change for the past four years. His work has been displayed on the front page of the Financial Times, he's been interviewed by BBC One's Rip-Off Britain, and he regularly features in The Telegraph and on BBC Radio. Reviewed by: Charlie Clissitt Editor Charlie has been researching and writing about the home energy market for over five years, and he has been the editor of The Eco Experts since 2021. Charlie's thoughts on solar panels have seen him featured in various publications, including The Times, Ideal Home, and Grand Designs Magazine. Ever since he can remember, Charlie has worried about the planet, and he one day dreams of owning a solar power farm.