Feed-in tariffs explained Feed-in tariffs Q&A

Solar panels being installed

Feed-in tariffs offer payments to homes producing their own electricity

We've pulled together everything you need to know about the feed-in tariff. Find out about current tariff rates, and use our example calculations to help you decide whether it's worth installing renewable technology, such as solar panels, in your home.

What is the feed-in tariff?

The feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme offers guaranteed cash payments to households that produce their own electricity at home using renewable technologies, such as solar photovoltaic (PV) panels or wind turbines.

The scheme, which launched in April 2010, is open to households and community groups in England, Scotland and Wales (but not Northern Ireland). The regular payments, which are paid for through a levy on all consumers' energy bills, are guaranteed by the government.

Is it true that feed-in tariff payments have been cut?

Yes, the FIT has been changed to 4.39p per kWh for new installations after 15 January 2016.

When it was first launched, the FIT rate for solar PV was very generous: 43.3p per kWh of electricity produced. But due to its success and the decreasing cost of solar panels, feed-in tariff rates have since been cut - for new installations only.

In August 2012 the tariffs were more than halved to 12.92p per kWh. As of 15 January 2016, the solar feed-in tariff has been cut by a further 65% to 4.39p per kWh.

The 2016 cuts mean the number of years it will take to recoup solar installation costs will be a lot longer and the pay-back time of solar panels is now closer to the full 25 years of the system’s life. 

Feed-in tariff deployment caps will also limit the amount of solar uptake, as the FIT scheme will be suspended when they are reached.

How much can I earn from feed-in tariff payments?

We've calculated some typical earnings and costs to give you an idea of how much can potentially be made by enrolling on a feed-in tariff. See our feed-in tariff earnings and savings page for more details.

But before spending thousands on renewable technology, make sure your home is as energy efficient as possible. In order to qualify for the highest feed-in tariff, from April 2012 it became mandatory for your home's energy performance certificate to have at least a level D rating (on a scale of A to G, A is the most energy efficient). So getting your house as energy efficient as possible makes sense.

You should have good loft insulation and wall insulation. And when it comes to replacing household products, choose energy-efficient appliances

You also need to make sure the renewable technology you choose is right for your home - the Energy Saving Trust's home energy generation tool is a good first port of call to decide which, if any, are suitable.

How does the feed-in tariff work?

There are three savings elements to the feed-in tariff.

  • Generation tariff (G) is a fixed rate payable to households for the total amount of electricity generated, calculated per unit. The rate you'll receive is determined by when you first registered to join the FIT scheme and the type and size of installation.
  • Export tariff (E) is payable on the units of electricity you export back to the national grid because you haven't used them in your own property. In the case of most small-scale technologies - or unless you already have a two-way smart meter installed - the level of electricity exported is currently 'deemed' by assuming you export 50% of the electricity you generate.
  • Savings on your electricity bills (S) because you'll be generating a portion of your household electricity yourself, your energy bills will be lower.

Feed-in tariff solar panel illustration

See our page on feed-in tariff savings and earnings for specific rates. The tariff is payable for up to 20 years, and the tax-free payments are usually paid each quarter.

Which renewable technologies are eligible?

I already have a solar panel or wind turbine. Can I join a feed-in tariff scheme?

Yes, but it depends on when and how your renewable technology was installed. 

You'll qualify for full feed-in tariff payments if your solar panel or wind turbine was installed between 15 July 2009 and 31 March 2010 and you transferred your Renewables Obligation Certificate (ROC) to the feed-in tariff before 1 April 2010. If you didn't, or didn't apply for a ROC in the first place, you won't be eligible for feed-in tariff payments.

If your renewable technology was installed after 1 April 2010, it must be accredited by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) and have been installed by a MCS qualified professional for you to be eligible for full payments. 

wind turbine next to house

Wind turbines are in the feed-in tariff scheme - but make sure they're suitable for you

How do I enrol in the feed-in tariff?

Get your renewable technology installed by a reputable company accredited by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme. Try Which? Local for recommended firms in your area. Don't take the first quote - shop around and compare several quotes to ensure you're getting a good deal.

Your installer will provide you with a feed-in tariff eligibility certificate, which you'll need to present to your chosen energy company to get signed up to a FIT.

Your energy supplier will then arrange the set up of the feed-in tariff - ask how often you'll need to take meter readings and when you'll receive payments. An additional electricity meter may need to be installed.

What about solar water heating panel systems?

Heat-generating technologies such as solar water heating systems - as well as air and ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps and wood heating systems - are eligible for payments under a separate scheme called the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). 

The RHI works in a similar way to feed-in tariffs, guaranteeing regular tariff payments for seven years based on the amount of renewable energy generated. You can find out more in our Renewable Heat Incentive Q&A.

What happens if I move home?

If you move home, in most cases the ownership of the renewable technology will transfer to the new owners of the property - and you or they would need to notify the energy company of the change on moving in.

What about Northern Ireland?

FIT only applies to England, Scotland and Wales. In Northern Ireland, households wanting to install solar PV panels can claim NIROC (Northern Ireland Renewable Obligation Certificates). In addition, if your solar PV installation is registered with Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE), you will get an export meter and could get paid for every surplus unit of electricity you produce and do not use (export tariff).

The rate of NIROC and export tariff is reviewed annually. For 1 October 2015 to 30 September 2016, the rates for solar PV are (for up to 50kW):

  • 1 ROC: 3.91p/kWh
  • Export: 4.01p/kWh.

To find out more about NIROC, see the Power NI website.

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