How to Sell Electricity Back to The Grid

Last updated: February 2024

Renewable energy is on the rise. From expansive windfarms covering acres of countryside to solar panels on our neighbour’s roof, spotting a renewable energy installation is no hard task these days. Solar technology in particular has seen an immense boost over the past few years, with an uptake of 5.3% since 2020 to a total capacity of almost 15GW. Hailed as a ‘milestone achievement by the Solar Trade Association, this rapid uptake of solar energy had to have been driven by something, and that something was (as is often the case) money.

Check out our video! We look at what it means to be truly carbon neutral and how electric radiators and renewable energy make the perfect pair. 

How solar energy became lucrative overnight

Back in 2009, it was possible to install solar panels and start breaking a profit at some point in your lifetime. The first income stream was, clearly, the instant savings on your energy bills. But this relied on your solar PV panels being installed correctly and efficiently, and there being enough consumption of energy during daylight hours to make it worth your while.

Selling solar energy back to the Grid

The second stream of cash came from selling energy back to the grid. In fact, ‘selling to the grid’ is a bit of a misnomer, because, in practice, the National Grid is actually a big step away from the consumer – with the energy suppliers standing firmly in the middle. Although you could sell your energy, it was typically through your own supplier.

Was it worth it?

Selling energy to the grid involved a large amount of red tape, and many owners of solar PV systems found it to be too much hassle. If you did manage to get your export meter installed and feeding power back to your supplier, you were typically paid somewhere between 6 and 9 pence per kWh fed back. While all of this was indeed helpful, it was a drop in the ocean compared to the cost of installing the system initially. With even small solar PV arrays costing in the region of £15,000 - £20,000, any homeowner with a calculator could figure out they were never going to break even on this deal. But then… everything changed.

The Feed in Tariff

In 2010 the UK government launched a ground-breaking new scheme to stimulate the uptake of renewable energy in Britain, and they named it the Feed in Tariff or FiT. Under FiT, you could be paid for all the energy you generated, whether you used it yourself or not, and could also get further money back when you generated a surplus which you could send to your supplier. The scheme was promised by the government and guaranteed for 20 years for every person approved on the scheme. In a nutshell, that meant you could be making money from your solar panels for at least the next two decades.

The Smart Export Guarantee

In 2019, FiT closed to new applicants following a decline in funding and payment rates. This was partly because technology had matured to a point where it became much cheaper, and solar PV became a financially viable option without grants. This led to the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) being created in 2020.

Which renewable technology is eligible for SEG?

If you’re a new renewable energy owner, you may be entitled to payments under SEG if your home is putting excess renewable electricity back into the National Grid, using one of the following technologies:

Solar panels (PV)

Wind turbines

Other renewable generators like hydro and anaerobic digestion


How to make money with SEG

In order to benefit from this scheme, you must sign up for a SEG tariff with an energy supplier. Companies with more than 150,000 customers are required to offer a tariff that is at least export-only, while smaller companies can do this at their discretion.

You don’t need to use the same energy company you’re with to get this tariff either, however some companies will pay for your exports into your account with them if you’re a customer. Some tariffs may offer a better rate if you do this, so be sure to shop around for the best option.

Now, there are two ways in which you can benefit from the Smart Export Guarantee:


If you generate more energy than you use, you can export the surplus back to your supplier, with the aid of a half-hourly meter to provide more accurate readings.


Of course, on top of the money you’re being paid to host a PV panel on your home, you’ll be making significant savings on your energy bills too. The amount you’ll save will depend on the size of your system, how much electricity you use and how effective the installation is.

The downsides of the Smart Export Guarantee

If you missed out on FiT, going through the Smart Export Guarantee is the only legitimate way to get money back for energy you are able to produce at home if you’re a new renewable energy owner. This in itself is not a problem for most people, but for others it does come with some drawbacks, for example:

  • SEG-eligible installations must be 5MW capacity or less and carried out by an MCS-accredited installer. This means you can’t install your solar panels DIY, or design your own waterwheel to generate energy from your local stream. Well, you can, but you won’t be able to sell energy to your supplier.


  • You’ll need to switch to a half-hourly meter. It’s exactly what it says on the tin: a meter that provides half-hourly readings for electricity export. Why it might pose as a downside is because in order to switch, you’ll need to go through a rather longwinded process. This includes contacting your local distribution network operator, setting up a half-hourly metering and supply contract and filling in an Upgrade to Supply form before you can get your meter upgraded and billing changed.
  • SEG payments are much lower than FiT. When the FiT scheme was first introduced, you could receive over 40p per kWh of electricity. There were roughly 970,000 UK homes with solar panel installations in 2020, and since reward schemes are designed to be cut back the more popular they become, payments have dropped significantly during this past decade. While not much is publicly known about individual company’s SEG tariffs, the few suppliers that have released that information only offer a set amount between 5-6p.

Is there another way to sell electricity back to the Grid?

There are stories to be found on various forums where people claim to have circumnavigated the FiT and SEG systems and still secured payment for exported renewable energy, although they often admit this involves the purchase of expensive export meters. There aren’t many situations where this would offer a better option overall, but apparently it can be done if you’re really insistent. For most of us, going through the SEG scheme will not only allow us to export excess energy via a simple mechanism to our suppliers, it will also ensure we are paid for each and every unit we produce from our renewable energy investment.

Looking to make your electric heating carbon neutral from start to finish? Check out this clip.

Prime your home for a sustainable future

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Key learnings

  • Owning solar panels became lucrative overnight with the creation of the Feed in Tariff (FiT) scheme in 2010, which paid renewable technology owners upwards of 40p per kWh.
  • As more people invested in solar energy, payment rates went down and FiT was officially closed to new applicants in 2019.
  • In 2020, the Smart Export Guarantee was created. It differs to FiT because it’s only available to energy suppliers who in turn provide SEG-tariffs to renewable technology owners.
  • Payments are much lower with SEG and it involves a rather longwinded process to even be eligible.
  • Investing in electric heating is a cost-effective approach to greener homes. Their innovative programming perfectly balances efficiency and convenience.