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Smart Export Guarantee (SEG): Are You Eligible?

Home generating solar energy on Smart Export Guarantee

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) pays homeowners and businesses for renewable electricity they generate but don’t use. It came into force in January 2020 and replaces the similar Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme. Read on to discover how the Smart Export Guarantee works, what you could earn from it and how to apply.

What is the Smart Export Guarantee?

The Smart Export Guarantee is a clean energy initiative which rewards households and businesses in Great Britain for going green by generating their own renewable electricity. The scheme pays out for excess electricity that isn’t used but instead added to the grid.

Do I qualify for the Smart Export Guarantee?

Check your eligibility in minutesIt can sometimes be difficult to tell if you are eligible for energy schemes. Find out in minutes if you are and what to do if you're not. Call 020 3936 0059 or get a free callback now.

There are five low-carbon electricity generating technologies eligible for the Smart Export Guarantee:

For solar, wind, hydro and anaerobic digestion systems, your total capacity cannot exceed 5MW, while the limit is 50kW for Micro CHP.

Rather than the government subsidising households and businesses for generating electricity, energy suppliers buy surplus energy from the customer instead. Suppliers offer the generator a price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of exported electricity.

Can I still qualify for Smart Export Guarantee payments if I have already received a government grant for installation? The Smart Export Guarantee is separate from any other installation grants, so you can still qualify if you have previously received government funding.

How does the Smart Export Guarantee work?

Who offers Smart Export Guarantee?

All energy suppliers with more than 150,000 customers are obliged by law to offer their own Smart Export Guarantee tariff as SEG licensees. Smaller providers can also opt-in if they wish, and some companies which aren’t traditional energy suppliers, such as Tesla, have also started to offer SEG tariffs.

How much could I earn by producing my own electricity?

Smart Export Guarantee calculator

While installing renewable energy generation technology and signing up to a Smart Export Guarantee tariff will help you save money on your energy bills in the long run, it is unlikely to offer the same financial reward that some solar panel owners could initially make on the Feed-in Tariff.

With the FIT, the export tariff is uniform, at 5.5p/kWh currently. Under the SEG, there isn’t a flat tariff rate. Instead, suppliers determine their own Smart Export Guarantee rates.

Data on the number of units of energy you’ve imported and exported is sent directly to the supplier using either a smart meter or half-hourly meter. They will then use this information to determine how much to pay out using the agreed SEG tariff rate.

If your solar PV panels produce 3,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity over the course of a year, with exactly half of that exported into the grid, you will be paid out for the 1,500kWh that you did not use. To give you an idea of what this translates to in earnings, we’ve used EDF Energy's Export+Earn tariff, which offers a unit rate of 3.5p per kWh.

EDF Energy Export+Earn Tariff
Unit rate Electricity exported Total earnings
3.5p per kWh 1,500kWh £52.50*

*Excluding VAT. Last updated February 2021.

Of course, the amount you will be paid can vary depending on your own system, personal energy consumption and weather conditions. While small-scale energy generators won’t make a fortune, the Smart Export Guarantee can still help you save money by contributing to your energy costs.

Best Smart Export Guarantee Rates

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As suppliers set their own Smart Export Guarantee rates, there can be a huge difference in the export price you could be paid from one tariff to the next.

We’ve calculated the annual smart export earnings for an average three-bed household with solar PV panels generating an excess 1,500 kWh of electricity per year. These are the best Smart Export Guarantee rates at the time of writing:

Top 10 Smart Export Guarantee Tariffs
Supplier Tariff Fixed or variable? Contract length Export rate Annual earnings*
Tesla Tesla Energy Plan Fixed Unknown 11p/kWh £165.00
Social Energy Smart Export Currently fixed No fixed end date 5.6p/kWh £84.00
Octopus Energy Outgoing Fixed Fixed 12 months 5.5p/kWh £82.50
E.ON Fix & Export Exclusive Fixed 12 months 5.5p/kWh £82.50
Bulb Energy Export Payments Fixed No fixed end date 5.38p/kWh £80.70
OVO Energy OVO SEG Tariff Fixed 12 months 4p/kWh £60.00
Scottish Power Smart Export Tariff Currently fixed No fixed end date 4p/kWh £60.00
SSE Smart Export Tariff Fixed No fixed end date 3.5p/kWh £52.50
EDF Energy Export+Earn Fixed 12 months 3.5p/kWh £52.50
Shell Energy SEG V1 Tariff Currently fixed No end date 3.5p/kWh £52.50

**Annual smart export earnings based on solar PV panels generating an excess 1,500 kWh of electricity per year. Last updated: February 2021.

While these are the top SEG tariffs by export rate, they may not be the best overall energy package for you. Some Smart Export Guarantee tariffs oblige you to sign up for an import tariff with the same supplier, while others may require a specific energy storage battery to be installed.

It’s always best to shop around to find the best deal that works for you. You can speak to an energy expert at Selectra on 020 3936 0059 or get a free callback now to find out if a Smart Export Guarantee tariff would work for you.

Fixed or Variable SEG tariff?

Fixed-rate Smart Export Guarantee tariffs offer a set price for each unit of renewable electricity you export, regardless of the time of day.

Flexible rate SEG tariffs, on the other hand, payout different amounts, depending on how much electricity demand there is on the National Grid. For example, you may be paid more in the evening, when demand is high than in the early hours of the morning when demand is far lower.

SEG licensees determine the export rate and other terms of your tariff. However, this rate must remain above zero, even if the wholesale price of electricity itself falls below 0p.

How do I apply for SEG?

Check your eligibility in minutesIt can sometimes be difficult to tell if you are eligible for energy schemes. Find out in minutes if you are and what to do if you're not. Call 020 3936 0059 or get a free callback now.

As mentioned above, the Smart Export Guarantee is available to homes and businesses with a generating capacity of up to 5 megawatts of solar PV, wind, hydro or anaerobic digestion, or up to 50 kilowatts for micro combined heat and power.

Generators with an eligible installation need to apply to an SEG Licensee for payment for electricity exported to the National Grid. This is the company which will provide your Smart Export Guarantee tariff. Your SEG licensee can be different from your current energy supplier. For help finding a local SEG licensee, you can speak to a Selectra energy expert on 020 3936 0059 or get a free callback now.

Once you’ve decided which Smart Export Guarantee tariff is right for your home or business, you should make sure you have all the following prepared as part of your application:

  • Completed SEG tariff application form.
  • An up-to-date meter reading.
  • Proof of ownership of energy generation unit.
  • Your MCS certificate for solar PV. You should have received when the panels were first installed.
  • A separate application for anaerobic digestion, if applicable. This is available on the Ofgem website.
  • Export MPAN number.
  • Bank account details.

Once you have submitted your application, you can expect to wait up to 28 days for your chosen SEG licensee to contact you.

Smart Export Guarantee vs Feed-In Tariff (FIT)

Wind turbine

The Feed-In Tariff was launched in 2010 to encourage domestic and business customers to invest in small-scale renewable energy generation. As the capital cost of installation came down, the FIT scheme reduced significantly and was closed to new applicants in April 2019.

While the Smart Export Guarantee can be considered the FIT’s replacement, it only pays out on the energy that is exported. The FIT, on the other hand, rewarded customers for generation, as well as export.

The Smart Export Guarantee also puts the onus on the suppliers to set their own export tariff rates, while the Feed-In Tariff rate is determined by Ofgem. Those on the FIT currently receive 5.5p/kWh, while homes and businesses on the Smart Export Guarantee can get between 0.5p and 11p/kWh, depending on their SEG licensee.

Will I still receive my FIT payments if I change energy supplier?

If you currently receive Feed-in Tariff payments, you will continue to do so for the duration of your FIT contract, which is usually around 20 years.

As the Feed-In Tariff offers payments for generation, as well as export, you’ll make more money by sticking with it for the remainder of your contract and then switching over to the Smart Export Guarantee when this is up.

Some SEG licensees, such as Octopus and So Energy, will allow you to retain the generation part of your Feed-In Tariff and still sign up to their Smart Export Guarantee tariff, so it’s always worth asking, if you are considering switching suppliers.

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