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Feed-in tariffs

What was the feed-in tariff?

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What was the feed-in tariff?

Find out how the feed-in tariff works, feed-in tariff rates and how much money you can earn if you’re already signed-up. Plus learn about the new Smart Export Guarantee for new solar panel installations.

The feed-in tariff (FIT) pays around 80,000 homes for generating renewable electricity, mainly from solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. It closed to new applicants in March 2019.

Read on to find out if you can benefit financially from installing renewable technology at home without the feed-in tariff. 

What was the feed-in tariff? 

The feed-in tariff (FIT) scheme offered cash payments to households that produced their own electricity using renewable technologies, such as solar PV panels or wind turbines.

The scheme closed to new applicants at the end of March 2019. This doesn’t affect you if you already receive FIT payments.

The payments are guaranteed by the government and paid for by a levy on everyone’s energy bills.

If you’re looking to install solar panels now, find out about the Smart Export Guarantee for solar panels instead.

Feed-in tariff payments are made up of two elements:

They are payable for up to 20 years (25 years if you signed-up before August 2012) and usually paid each quarter. They’re tax-free.

Feed-in tariffs are for renewable electricity only. If you’re considering installing solar water-heating, a ground source heat pump, air source heat pump or wood heating system, these are heat-generating technologies and eligible for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). 

The RHI also guarantees regular payments, for seven years, to help with the cost of installing a renewable heating system. Find out more about the Renewable Heat Incentive.

Feed-in tariff rates and earnings 

If you already get the feed-in tariff then how much you earn depends on:

  • the FIT rates you signed up to
  • the technology you installed
  • how much electricity your system generates
  • how much of your electricity you use.

Those who signed up to the feed-in tariff when it first launched in 2011 are paid a much more generous rate than those who signed up shortly before the scheme closed.

Feed-in tariff rates 2010 to 2019

Whether you can make a profit will depend on how much your system cost to install plus any maintenance costs, balanced against how much you make or save from it.

Those who signed up when the feed-in tariff was smallest could take around 25 years for savings to pay for their system. Though how much of your electricity you use makes a big difference.

The generation tariff rates for different technologies varied:

Feed-in tariff generation rates 2019

Making sure your home is well-insulated and you have energy-efficient appliances will also help make the most of your renewable electricity and help cut your fuel bills.

My solar panels get the feed-in tariff: what happens now it’s closed? 

If you already receive the feed-in tariff you will continue to do so. The scheme has closed to new applicants but those already signed up will continue to receive payments for the duration of their agreement.

Tips to make the most of your feed-in tariff 

To maximise your savings and earnings from the feed-in tariff, try some of these tips suggested by Which? members who have solar PV and receive the feed-in tariff:

  • If you don’t have a smart meter, your electricity company will estimate that you don’t use 50% of the electricity you generate and put that into the grid. So if you use more than 50%, you gain.
  • It makes sense to use as much of your free solar-generated electricity as you can. If you have a device in your home to show your electricity generation in real time, you can time your electricity use to coincide with when the most electricity is being generated.
  • Set the time-delay on appliances that use a lot of electricity (such as the dishwasher, tumble dryer, washing machine) so that they come on sequentially throughout the day when your system is generating electricity, not all together.

I missed the feed-in tariff deadline: can I get paid for generating renewable electricity? 

Yes. The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) is the name for the new scheme that will pay homes for excess renewable electricity they generate and put into the grid.

All energy firms with more than 150,000 customers must offer a SEG tariff by the end of 2019, though very few have launched theirs so far.

The SEG differs from the FIT in a few key ways:

  • Payments will be based on measured export of electricity, whereas export was ‘deemed’ for FIT payments.
  • Companies set the rates of their SEG tariffs. The government set feed-in tariff rates.
  • It's likely you'll need a smart meter, or another meter which can measure half-hourly export, to get an SEG tariff.

Find out more about the Smart Export Guarantee, including which companies are offering one and how much money you could earn.

If you’re considering installing solar panels, or other renewable electricity generation at home, make sure you use an reputable company accredited by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) and renewable installation firms approved by Which? Trusted Traders. Ensure the technology is MCS-accredited, too.

Plus find out more about installing solar panels.

Can I take my feed-in tariff if I move home? 

If you move home, the ownership of the renewable technology will usually transfer to the new owners of the property. Therefore they would qualify for the feed-in tariff.

You or they would need to notify the energy company of the change on the date of the move.

Feed-in tariff payment problems and how to solve them 

Over the years, we’ve heard from solar panel owners who have had problems receiving their feed-in tariff payments.

Almost one in five Which? members with solar panels told us they’d had a problem getting their FIT paid when we ran a survey in May 2018. The most common complaint was receiving payment later than expected.

But things have improved since we first asked this question six years ago, when more than a third told us they had had a payment problem.

Some suppliers can take up to 90 days to pay your FITs, while others say they’re much faster, promising payment just 10 working days after you send a meter reading.

If your payments seem slow, check your feed-in tariff contract to find out when you should expect them. Make sure you submit meter readings on time – otherwise your FIT licensee has nothing to base your payments on. If you miss the deadline you may have to wait until the next meter reading period.

If you want to complain about your FIT payments contact your FIT licensee directly, using the complaints process which should be set out on its website. Find out more in our guide to complaining about feed-in tariff payment problems.

Can I change my feed-in tariff supplier? 

Your feed-in tariff payments will be the same regardless of which electricity company pays them. This is because the rates are set by the government.

You don’t have to use the same electricity company as your feed-in tariff licensee and your domestic electricity supplier. You can change your FIT licensee if you wish.

All electricity companies with more than 250,000 companies had to pay the feed-in tariff. These are: Avro Energy, British Gas, Bulb, Co-operative Energy, EDF Energy, Eon, Flow Energy, Npower, Octopus Energy, Ovo Energy, Scottish Power, Shell Energy, SSE, Utility Warehouse and Utilita.

Some smaller firms also chose to pay the feed-in tariff. These include: Bristol Energy, Ecotricity, Engie, Foxglove Energy, Good Energy, Green Energy UK, iSupply Energy, Robin Hood Energy, Solarplicity and Tonik Energy.

See Ofgem’s full list of FIT licensees.

Find out more about switching the energy supplier that pays your feed-in tariff.

Can I get the feed-in tariff in Northern Ireland? 

The feed-in tariff wasn’t available in Northern Ireland. Instead it had a scheme called NIRO (Northern Ireland Renewable Obligation) which you could claim if you installed solar panels.

However, this scheme has also now closed to new installations. If you already receive Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs), you will continue to do so for either 20 years from the date your system was accredited or until 31 March 2027 – whichever is closer.

Additionally, if you register your installation with Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) you will get an export meter. Then you can sign up for an export tariff and be paid for every surplus unit of electricity you produce and export to the grid. For example, Power NI pays 5.47p/kWh.

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