Get Free Solar Panel Quotes

Find out how much solar panels would cost you

Do you need solar panels for your home or business?

Complete a Short Form — Receive Free Quotes — Compare & Save
As featured in:
Business Insider

Why get solar panels?

  • Generate free, green electricity
  • Reduce your electricity bill by up to 64%
  • Get paid for what you don't use

The Smart Export Guarantee explained

Big energy suppliers must pay you for your excess renewable energy

The best Smart Export Guarantee rate right now is around 27p per kWh

The average home will make £160 per year from this scheme

To encourage homeowners in the installation of low-carbon technology, the government has set up a number of solar panel grants and funding schemes.

One of these schemes, the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) ensures that homeowners exporting electricity to the National Grid via solar panels, wind turbines and other low-carbon technology can receive payments from energy companies. 

Doing this can help offset the installation costs of solar panels and other electricity generating tech, moving forward your break even point by a few years.

On this page, we’ll tell you how the SEG works, whether you’re eligible for it, and how much you could earn.

What is the Smart Export Guarantee?

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) is a government-backed initiative that compels large energy suppliers to pay homeowners for renewable energy they send back to the National Grid.

You can get payments through the SEG if you generate electricity with any of the following systems:

  • Solar panels
  • Small wind turbines
  • Micro combined heat and power
  • Hydro
  • Anaerobic digestion

SEG began in January 2020 as a replacement for the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) and works differently as it puts responsibility on consumers to find the best rate for the electricity they generate.

It particularly benefits homeowners 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?

Watch our short video below, which explains how the SEG works:

How does the Smart Export Guarantee work?

The average household won’t use all of the energy their system produces, so the excess electricity gets exported back to the grid.

The Smart Export Guarantee allows you to still benefit from that excess electricity, in the form of payments from an energy supplier participating in the scheme.

Each supplier has set rates for the electricity you export, but the highest you can get without switching energy suppliers if you don’t own a solar battery is E.On’s Next Export Exclusive tariff at 16.5p per kilowatt hour (kWh) rate.

In the case of solar panels, households only use around 50% of the electricity their panels generate. Looking at supplier rates, with Scottish Power’s 12p rate, the average solar panel owner will make around £159 a year in profit from exporting their excess electricity back to the grid.

Smart Export Guarantee inforgraphic showing the savings and payments you can expect

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 panels
  • Wind turbines
  • Micro combined heat and power
  • Hydro
  • Anaerobic digestion

Your 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 of requirements 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.

Solar panels

By far the most popular form of residential electricity generation, solar panels are suitable for a wide variety of property types, and are relatively easy to install.

Solar panels work by converting sunlight into electricity, although the sun doesn’t need to be shining for this to happen. Solar panels work just fine on cloudy days, so you’ll save on energy bills with them even if you don’t live in a sunny area.

Domestic wind turbines

Domestic wind turbines generate electricity using the power of the wind. They’re just like those big wind turbines you see in wind farms, only smaller.

Wind turbines aren’t as popular as residential solar panels because they generally require you to have a wide open space, far away from any trees or buildings in order to reach their full potential.

Micro combined heat and power

A micro combined heat and power (micro-CHP) system uses the same energy source to generate both heat and electricity.

They’re primarily used for heating, and most systems have a six to one ratio of heat to electricity production, according to the Energy Saving Trust.

Micro-CHP systems usually use gas as a power source, so the electricity they generate isn’t emission-free. The most common type of micro-CHP is an internal combustion engine, typically an engine connected to an electric generator.


A hydropower system generates electricity using water. This type of system isn’t very popular in residential settings, since it requires you to have a source of flowing water on your property.

However, if you’re lucky enough to have a river or stream in your back garden, and it’s got strong flow, a micro hydropower system could produce more than enough electricity to power your entire home.

Anaerobic digestion

Anaerobic digestion is a pretty niche way to generate electricity. It involves using bacteria to break down organic matter (food waste, manure, wastewater) in a closed chamber, which creates biogas.

Biogas is mainly methane, and can be used to produce heat or generate electricity, in a similar way natural gas is used. This means it’s not an emission-free form of electricity generation, but it is renewable.

You need more than a simple compost bin to generate electricity through anaerobic digestion, but it might be a good option for you if you have a large farm.

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, so we would advise having one.

Smart Export Guarantee rates

There are 13 companies licensed to offer SEG rates, which can be any amount above zero.

This includes 11 that 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 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 February 2024. 

Energy supplierPrice (p/kWh)Name of tariff

Octopus (own customers with a GivEnergy solar battery)


Intelligent Octopus Flux

Octopus (own customers with a solar battery)


Octopus Flux

OVO (own solar customers with a battery)


OVO SEG Tariff

Good Energy (own solar customers with a battery)


Solar Savings Exclusive

E.On (own customers)


Next Export Exclusive

Octopus (own customers)


Outgoing Fixed

OVO (own solar customers)


OVO SEG Tariff

Scottish Power (own customers)



British Gas (own customers)


Export and Earn Plus

Good Energy (own customers with a smart meter)


Solar Savings

Scottish Power (non-customers)



Octopus (own customers on Go tariff)


Outgoing Fixed Lite

So Energy


So Export Flex

Rebel Energy


SEG Tariff

British Gas (non-customers)


Export & Earn Flex

Rebel Energy


SEG Tarrif

EDF (own customers)


Export Variable Value

Utility Warehouse (customers)


UW Smart Export Guarantee - Bundle

Pozitive Energy


SEG tariff

Octopus (non-customers)


Outgoing Go

OVO (non-customers)


OVO SEG Tariff



Utilita Smart Export Guarantee

EDF (non-customers)


Export Variable

E.ON (non-customers)


Next Export

Utility Warehouse


UW Smart Export Guarantee - Standard



E SEG January2020v.1

We update our SEG table regularly. Last updated on 26 March 2024.

* This tariff is variable. It varies depending on your location, and includes an off-peak period, so this is a representative rate

Octopus offers the best SEG rate, paying around 27p for every kWh of renewable electricity a household sends to the Grid, on average.

This barrier-breaking variable tariff charges allows customers with a GivEnergy Solar battery to export electricity back to the grid at a peak rate between 16:00 – 19:00. The peak rate will change depending on your postcode.

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. This tariff is available to everyone, regardless of whether you’re a Scottish Power customer or not.

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.”

Can you choose any supplier for the SEG?

Technically you can choose any supplier for your SEG tariff, but some reserve their highest rates for existing customers.

Octopus, Scottish Power, EDF, and E.ON, for example, all offer higher tariffs to households that receive electricity from them. Meanwhile, OVO, Good Energy, and So Energy offer preferential SEG rates to homeowners who have used them for solar panel installation.

Depending on what stage you have reached on your solar panel journey, it’s worth looking at the SEG rates your existing energy supplier will offer, and shopping around to make sure you get the maximum benefit.

Where do you want to install solar panels?

Get started

How much money can you earn from the SEG?

Based on the hours of daylight we have in the UK, the owner of a three-bedroom house with a 3.5 kWp solar panel system will earn £159 per year on average from the Smart Export Guarantee with 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 system

House sizeNo of panelsSystem kWpAnnual SEG earnings (£)

1-2 bedrooms




3 bedrooms




4+ bedrooms




As long as you buy the right size solar panel system for your home and pay a fair price (around £703 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 location

Location 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, but it’s still worth it. Even if you’re getting solar panels in Scotland, which tends to get less sunshine than the rest of the UK, you’ll still save on your electricity bills.

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 even

South Wales



South East England






North West England



North Scotland



If you want to take advantage of SEG payments, fill in this form with a few details, and one of our trusted suppliers will be in touch to give you a competitive quote for solar panels on your home.

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 before you sign up.

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 nearby
  • You 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 home

If 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 is the SEG different from the Feed-in Tariff?

The SEG replaced the Feed-in Tariff (FiT), which has ended.

The SEG is an export tariff where 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 meant 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.

With the SEG, 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 SEG good enough?

The Smart Export Guarantee is a positive development, but it goes nowhere near far enough towards rewarding solar households or encouraging prospective buyers.

The best Smart Export Guarantee tariff is Octopus’s 27p per kWh average offering, exceeding the standard rate consumers pay for electricity, which is currently 28.62p 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 has 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 SEG 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 customers continue to be underpaid for the electricity they generate as a result.

Overall, energy companies pay households just 35% of what their solar energy is worth.

You should still sign up for an SEG tariff, because otherwise you’re leaving money on the table – but solar power is worth more than this.

Next steps

Armed 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 2023 National Home Energy Survey they’d be willing to buy a house with solar panels, there’s never been a better time to switch to a fossil-free future.

Just fill in this form with a few details, and our expert suppliers will be in touch with a quote for solar panels on your home.


As an alternative to the SEG, some people prefer to use a solar diverter to deal with excess energy.

This is a device used to direct excess electricity generated by the solar panels towards a specific load or appliance, such as water heaters, electric boilers, or electric vehicle charge points.

Written by:
josh jackman
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 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.
Back to Top