The rollout of smart meters is an important part of the energy revolution and transition to a clean electricity network. But if you’re generating your own electricity, how do smart meters and solar panels interact? Can you have smart meters with solar PV? You can - and it may make your life even easier.
We’re often asked by our customers which is the best electricity tariff, especially when they’re investing in their own renewable energy systems. There are lots of energy suppliers, with prices varying by location and various contract commitments. But there are particular types of tariffs that we’d recommend looking at, depending on your circumstances:
The new year kicked off with the introduction of the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), which came into law on January 1st. It’s the long awaited return of a scheme to ensure solar PV owners are paid for the power they send to the grid, ending the policy void that’s existed since the Feed-in Tariff closed to new applicants last March.
According to the SEG, energy suppliers with over 150,000 customers must offer an export tariff with a rate greater than zero. The SEG is available for customers with an MCS-certified renewable energy system under 5MW and a smart meter.
With zero as the minimum, at the very least you can’t be charged for being relieved of excess solar power. However, suppliers don’t have to give you very much for it. So how much are they offering in practice?
On 10th June, the government finally announced the details of the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), the system to ensure people are paid for excess generated electricity they send to the grid.
This guarantee is seen as a replacement for the Feed-in and Export Tariffs, which ended on 31st March this year. Those schemes encouraged thousands of installs and helped bring the cost of solar down over 50% since 2011. The aim of the SEG is to continue promoting renewables but without costing consumers. Instead suppliers will have to start bidding competitively for the energy you generate.
The solar PV industry has faced a year of change in 2019, with more uncertainty lying ahead. First came the end of the Feed-in Tariff, the guaranteed payments for people generating solar energy. The 50% deemed Export Tariff for smaller systems ended at the same time and we’re still waiting to see what will fill the gap, to prevent customers with new solar systems from exporting excess electricity to the grid for free. (Don’t worry, this doesn’t impact people who installed their system before the final Feed-in Tariff deadline of 31st March 2019.) The current proposal from the government is the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) - more on this below. As a final kick in the teeth to the industry, another threat to solar PV installation has resurfaced - a potential solar VAT rise on domestic systems from 5% to 20%.
So what does all this mean to you? Is solar PV still worth installing now, either as an extension to your existing system, or as a new system altogether, or should you wait? And what about a solar battery?
Around 30 GigaWatts of the UK’s older fossil fuel and nuclear capacity is due to be de-commissioned by 2025. At the same time, more and more of us are taking delivery of our first electric car, pulling away from the lights much faster than the petrol heads whilst fuelling a significant increase in the national electricity demand.
Furthermore, with the advent of renewables, the problem of balancing supply and demand within the National Grid is become ever more challenging, leading to periods of excess demand and ‘negative electricity prices’.
And with all this comes an increasing expectation of power cuts, grid constraints and increasing electricity costs.
Enter battery storage, and in particular, home battery storage. And smart meters, and smart electricity tariffs.
Is electricity cheaper at night?
If like me, your gut answer is ‘of course electricity is cheaper at night’, read on …
When the government announced in 2018 that it would close the Feed-in Tariff scheme with effect from 31st March 2019, it failed to put in place any replacement for the Export Tariff. Small scale solar PV systems installed after 31st March were likely to end up exporting excess solar generation to the grid for free.
Not surprisingly there was uproar within the industry at this prospect.
In response, the government has this week launched a consultation on the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).
Back in July, the government announced its intention to close the Feed-in Tariff Scheme to new entrants from 31st March 2019. The Export Tariff was scrapped at the same time, thus placing owners of small scale solar systems installed after 1st April 2019 in a position whereby they could find themselves exporting excess solar electricity to the Grid for free.
Not surprisingly the idea of the homeowner installing solar only to find themselves subsidising the Big 6 with free exported solar electricity has caused something of an outcry in the solar industry…
Since April 2010, more than 800,000 solar PV installations have benefitted from the hugely successful Feed-in-Tariff scheme.
The scheme was originally expected to be open until March 2021. However it is now closing to new entrants at the end of March 2019, due both to government cuts and the reduced costs of solar panels. The subsidies paid to existing members of the scheme will not be impacted by the closure.
If you haven't already in
stalled solar PV you have nine months to claim your share of the pot...