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Smart Export Guarantee

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) is a UK government initiative designed to support small-scale renewable energy generation. It essentially ensures that households and small businesses are financially compensated for surplus renewable electricity that they export back to the grid.

What is the smart export guarantee (SEG)?

The SEG is a UK government initiative that replaced the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme in January 2020. It mandates that certain electricity suppliers offer a tariff and pay small-scale, low-carbon generators for the electricity they export to the national grid. This exported energy is typically surplus power that the generators produce but do not consume themselves.

Who is the scheme for?

The SEG targets small-scale renewable energy producers, including:

  • Homeowners with solar panels or other renewable installations.
  • Small businesses and community projects.
  • Organisations with micro-generation facilities.

How does the smart export guarantee work?

  • Eligibility: The scheme is available to households and organisations that have installed renewable energy systems such as solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, wind turbines, hydroelectric systems, anaerobic digesters, or micro-combined heat and power systems, with a capacity up to 5 megawatts.
  • Export Tariff: Eligible participants receive payments from their electricity supplier for each unit (kilowatt-hour, kWh) of electricity they export.
  • Metering: To accurately measure exported electricity, a smart meter or an export meter is required.
  • Agreement: Participants must enter into an agreement with an electricity supplier that offers an SEG tariff.

How long does the smart export guarantee last?

The duration of the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) tariff agreements can vary depending on the electricity supplier. Unlike the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme it replaced, the SEG does not have a standardised contract length set by the government. Instead, each energy supplier offering an SEG tariff sets its own terms, including the length of the contract.

For instance, some suppliers may offer SEG tariffs with a fixed term of 12 months, while others might provide variable tariffs with no fixed end date, allowing greater flexibility. It’s important for participants to check the specific terms and conditions of the SEG tariff offered by their chosen energy supplier. These terms will outline the duration of the contract and any conditions for renewal or termination.

Who is eligible for the smart export guarantee?

To be eligible for the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) in the UK, your system must meet certain criteria:

Renewable Energy Source: The electricity generated must come from renewable sources. This includes technologies like solar PV panels, wind turbines, hydroelectric systems, anaerobic digestion, and micro combined heat and power (micro-CHP).

Capacity Limits: The maximum capacity of the system should not exceed 5 megawatts (MW) for most technologies, or 50 kilowatts (kW) for micro-CHP systems. This capacity range covers typical domestic systems.

Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS): The technology and installer must be certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) or an equivalent standard. Energy suppliers might ask for an MCS certificate to prove that your installation meets these standards.

Smart Meter: You need to have a registered smart meter that can record your exported electricity. This is essential for providing precise export readings, typically every 30 minutes.

No Concurrent Feed-in Tariff (FiT) Export Payments: If you are already receiving export payments under the FiT scheme, you cannot receive SEG payments simultaneously. However, you can opt out of FiT export payments to receive SEG payments while continuing to receive FiT generation payments.

Remember, individual energy suppliers set the rates for the SEG tariff, and these can vary. The payments are usually made quarterly and are based on the amount of exported electricity, as recorded by your smart meter. Energy suppliers with more than 150,000 customers are required to offer at least one SEG tariff, but smaller suppliers can offer a tariff voluntarily. You can choose your SEG tariff provider independently of your primary energy provider.

Can you combine SEG with other grants and financial support?

Yes, you can combine the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) with other grants and financial support, with some exceptions. The main restriction is that if you are already receiving payments under the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme, you cannot receive both FIT export and SEG payments simultaneously. However, you have the option to opt out of your FIT export payments to receive SEG payments instead, while still continuing to receive FIT generation payments.

Apart from this, SEG payments are not linked to other financial support regarding renewable energy installations. This means that you could potentially combine SEG payments with other forms of financial support. For example, in Scotland, it is possible to combine SEG payments with the Home Energy Scotland Grant and Loan.

In addition to the SEG, there are other schemes like the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme, which focuses primarily on homes occupied by their owners. It also extends support to energy-inefficient social housing and privately rented properties, subject to certain conditions like landlord approval. The ECO4 grant, for instance, is part of this scheme and offers support based on specific eligibility criteria related to household income and benefits received.

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