The Smart Export Guarantee, often referred to as an SEG, is a government scheme that allows private energy generators to receive payment for feeding their excess electricity into the national grid.
The SEG scheme replaced the fairly disastrous FIT, or Feed In Tariff, created in 2010.
FIT – Feed In Tariff
Launched by the Con/Lib coalition government, the FIT encouraged private, renewable electricity
generation by offering anyone who could feed that electricity into the grid as much as 41.3p per kWh for every single unit they generated.
That was for 50% of the energy a household generated, whether they used it or not … so households were very keen to get involved.
This encouraged mis-selling of solar systems on the promise of untold riches.
But, of course, it wasn’t sustainable and the government had reduced the tariffs to 21p per kWh by 2013.
FITs are still in operation, for those that signed up before 2019, as the contracts were between 20 and 25 years.
There are companies in operation that are willing to buy the remainder of a household’s FIT scheme.
Learn more about the Feed in Tariff.
Smart Export Guarantee
SEGs replaced the FIT in 2019 and put the cost of buying back privately generated electricity firmly in the hands of the energy companies.
Although, the caveat is energy companies are legally obliged to offer an SEG scheme.
This leads to a huge variety of tariffs and pricing, as some companies embrace the idea and offer a reasonable amount while others are very much into the monopoly they have and offer derisory amounts.
So, what rates are energy companies offering for SEGs?
SEG Rates from Different Energy Suppliers
We’ve had a look around and picked out 10 SEG packages, going from the highest down to the ones you probably don’t need to bother with!
Learn more about kWh.
|Energy supplier||Type of tariff||Need to be a customer||Price (p/kWh)|
*This information was correct as of 17th May 2023 – this is just a selection of SEGs and some companies will offer other rates
SEG Details from our top 10 Energy Suppliers
As you can see, there are a great many tariffs available, so let’s take a deeper look at what the real differences are.
Outgoing Octopus isn’t a particularly gregarious octopus, it’s the name of the SEG from Octopus Energy and they have two different tariffs to choose from.
Their fixed rate is 15p, meaning any electricity you supply them will be purchased at 15p per kWh and you can feed that energy to the grid whenever you like.
The variable rate sets the price by sampling the rates in the previous half hour and basing the cost on that.
The advantage of the fixed rate is you’ll always be able to control the money you earn from Octopus.
The variable rate means you can choose the price at which you sell and for how long you’ll earn mist during ‘peak’ hours.
Octopus are fast becoming one of the best renewable energy providers and their rates reflect this.
You can get a higher rate with Tesla – a hefty 24/5p per kWh – but you need to buy a Tesla wall at 9 grand first!
To sign up with Octopus Outgoing you must:
- Be an Octopus customer.
- Have a METS2 smart meter.
- Not currently have a FIT.
- Installation must have been carried out by an MCS certified installer.
The best one we feel, for an average, is Flux.
There is no exit fee, the payment cycle is monthly, and you can export from your batteries.
SmartGen and SmartGen+ are the tariffs from Scottish Power and both are variable rates that can change according to demand.
The difference between the lower and higher rates are that the higher rate is only offered to Scottish Power customers that have had their panels and/or batteries fitted by Scottish Power.
So, if you are considering tariff, and already have a solar system it may be worth getting an extra battery installed by them.
To sign up with Scottish Power you must:
- Be customers who meet the SEG eligibility criteria and who have had their solar panels and/or battery installed with ScottishPower. (SmartGen+).
- Have a Smart or AMR meter to get half hourly readings that Scottish Power can access.
- Be able to generate up to 5MW.
- Have an export MPAN or Meter Point Administration Number.
- Not currently have an FIT.
- Installation must have been carried out by an MCS/Flexi-Orb certified installer.
There is no exit fee, the payment cycle is half yearly and you can export from your batteries.
British Gas have called their SEG the ‘Export and Earn Flex’ tariff.
When you are setting your SEG up with British Gas they will specify the amount of energy they will take from you – so you won’t be able give them as much as you can produce.
British Gas do give you the opportunity to switch tariffs whenever you want without any penalties on their end.
You don’t even have to be a customer with British Gas to apply for the Export and Earn tariff.
To sign up with British Gas you must:
- A smart meter that gives get half hourly readings
- Capability to generate up to 5MW
- An export MPAN or Meter Point Administration Number.
- No current FIT
- Installation carried out by an MCS/Flexi-Orb certified installer.
There is no exit fee, the payment cycle is 3 monthly, and you can export from your batteries.
No fancy name for OVO’s SEG but at 4p per kWh there probably wasn’t much point having that meeting!
One of the advantages of the OVO is that the smart meter you have doesn’t matter and they will send you an MPAN (meter point administration number) should need one.
They can take automatic quarterly readings from your smart meter or they have an easy online form for customers to report their usage.
To sign up with OVO you must:
- A smart meter that gives half hourly readings
- Capability to generate up to 5MW
- An export MPAN or Meter Point Administration Number.
- No current FIT
- Installation carried out by an MCS/Flexi-Orb certified installer
- You must not be receiving any government grants.
The OVO tariff has a 12-month minimum length and there is an exit fee unless you cancel in the first 2 weeks. The payment cycle is 3 monthly, and you can export from your batteries.
As we get down to the lower levels of payments for a SEG the information becomes less complicated, and the benefits just become, well, less.
Shell’s 3.5p per kWh comes with very few selling points and they reserve the right to cancel or change the tariff, at any point with only 30 days written notice.
To sign up with Shell you must:
- Your installation must be MCS/Flexi-Orb certified
- You cannot have an existing feed-in tariff (FiT)
- You need an export Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN)
- You will need to have a SMETS smart meter
The payment cycle on this is yearly, the contract length is 12 months and if you wish to leave, there is an exit fee. You can export from batteries though.
Seems E.ON want the moon on a stick for their paltry 3 per kWh.
They have 2 tariffs to choose from: Next Export and Next Export Exclusive.
Next Export is open to anyone who’s solar system can generate up to 5MW, whereas Next Export Exclusive is just for E.ON customers who had their system installed by E.ON themselves on, or after, 1st January 2020.
You’ll need to apply for an Export MPAN (meter point administration number) and, once you receive it, your export contract will start.
To sign up with Eon you must:
- A SMETS2 smart meter, or SecureTM SMETS, that will send E.ON half hourly export meter readings.
- A solar PV system installed by a MCS/Flexi-Orb certified fitter.
- To be able to generate up to 5MW.
- To be an E.ON solar customer from after January 2020 (Next Export Exclusive tariff only).
- To be free of any previous FIT schemes.
There is no exit fee, contracts are for 12 months, and you get paid yearly … but E.ON will not take any electricity from your batteries.
EDF Energy have 2 different SEGs, the Export Variable Tariff and the Export Variable Value Tariff,
The first will get you 3p per kWh and is open to anyone with a system producing up to 5MW, the second is open only to EDF Energy customers.
Once you are signed up, EDF Energy will want your first meter reading after that the smart meter should automatically send them one every half hour.
If you don’t have a smart meter, or it can’t send automatic readings, you’ll need to take manual readings every quarter.
To sign up with EDF’s Export Variable tariff you must:
- Half hourly mete readings – or manual ones
- A Meter Point Administration Number if you have a meter
- To not be on a FIT
- A solar PV system installed by an MCS/Flexi-Orb certified installer
- To be able to generate up to 5MW, or up to 50kW for Micro-CHP
There is no fixed contract length, and we can’t find out the payment cycle, but we do know you can’t export from your batteries.
You can ‘choose’ from 2 different tariffs with Utility Warehouse.
Their standard tariff comes in at a whopping 2p per kWh and is open to all customers of UW … or the Bundle tariff which you can sign up to if you are buying their energy AND 2 more of their products.
The bundle tariff is 5.6p per kWh but if you unsubscribe to any of UW services you will automatically drop back onto the standard tariff.
All UW tariffs are variable, so prices will fluctuate.
To sign up with Utility Warehouse you must:
- Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN)
- You must have a Smart meter or a meter that can obtain half hourly readings
- You must not already have a feed-in tariff (FiT)
- Your system needs to be MCS/Flexi-Orb certified
- You must be able to generate up to 5MW or 50kW for micro-CHP systems
Once again, and this is common with the lower rates, there is no fixed contract length, and we can’t find out the payment cycle, and you can’t export from your batteries.
What do I need in my Solar System for an SEG?
As we’ve seen from the previous tariff round ups, there are a fair few things you need to qualify for an SEG.
But most companies ask for the same stuff and, if your installation was carried out by a professional, properly certificated contractor you will already have been supplied with everything you need.
- A G98 or G99 certificate
- A MCS registered fitter has done the installation
- A smart meter (usually)
- A system capable of generating a decent amount of power
If you have all these things in place, then you are ready to start earning money from your solar energy installation.
Is an SEG payment considered taxable earnings?
The answer to this is a simple ‘no’, but it could be a complicated ‘yes’ too.
Basically, so long as you aren’t using significantly less electricity in your home than you are generating, and the system is installed on your property, HMRC are not going to bother you.
What is the average earning from an SEG?
As you can see from the wealth of SEGs available, getting an average earning is not easy and we would encourage you to store or use your generated electricity as that’s where the real savings are.
If we take Scottish Power’s SEG, which is open to anyone and pays the highest rate of all the ‘open’ SEGs:
An average 3-bedroom home, with a normal 3.5 Kw solar system can earn £159 per year at the 12p per kWh rate.
No one actually has an ‘average’ house though so number can be much higher or totally non-existent if you’re on a very low buy back amount.
Are SEGs worth it?
Honestly, it really depends on what you want out of your system and how you want to earn or save money.
Using all the electricity you generate will save you more money than an SEG would pay you.
However, it costs nothing to sign up to SEGs so it’s worth doing even if you never earn anything from it.