Smart Export Guarantee explained: how much could you save?

09 April 2021 | Aimee Tweedale

Got solar panels on your roof? Or perhaps a mini wind turbine in the garden?

Good news! The Smart Export Guarantee, or SEG for short, is a way of rewarding you for being an eco-warrior, and exporting the electricity that you generate at home.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about SEG payments, and OVO’s own SEG tariff.

What is the Smart Export Guarantee?

Basically, SEG is a smart idea where people with solar panels, wind turbines (or similar) get paid for sending some of their home-generated energy to the national grid. 

This awesome environmental initiative replaces the government’s Feed-in Tariff (or FIT), which ended in March 2019. 

What do I need to qualify for the SEG?

To get SEG payments, you must have a way of generating electricity at home. SEG pays you for the power you export from your renewable energy source.

These are the different types of electricity generator you could have at home.

Solar photovoltaic systems

Definitely the most popular mode of generating electricity at home, solar panels use photovoltaic technology to turn sunlight into energy. They should be installed on a south-facing roof.

Onshore wind

We’ve all seen the giant wind turbines that line the windswept UK coastline. But it’s also possible to have your own micro wind farm, capturing the breeze in your back garden. 

Hydro Power

Hydroelectric power, which harnesses the energy of streams and rivers, is less common in homes. However, it’s a cost-effective choice for off-grid homes out in the countryside.

Anaerobic digestion

Anaerobic digestion is the use of bacteria to break down organic waste. The process produces green gas, an eco-friendly alternative to natural gas, which is a fossil fuel.

Want to know more about fossil fuels and how they impact the environment? Read our complete guide.

Micro-combined heat and power 

Combined heat and power units, aka CHP units, do exactly what they say on the tin: they generate electricity and heat at the same time. Replacing traditional boilers, these nifty units often use fuel cell technology. 

You can get SEG payments for your CHP unit if it has a capacity of 50kW or less.

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How much can I earn selling energy back to the grid with the Smart Export Guarantee?

Different suppliers set their own Smart Export Guarantee rates. So each one will pay you a different amount for the electricity you export per kWh. It’s worth shopping around to get the best deal. 

How much you can make from exporting your energy will depend on a few things:

  • How much energy you generate
  • What percentage of that energy you don’t use, and export to the grid
  • Which energy company’s SEG tariff you sign up to, and what rate they offer per kWh
  • What time of day or night you export the energy

You might also be able to save on your energy bills by installing a home energy storage system. This would mean you could hold onto your excess energy, rather than exporting it. 

In some cases, storing your energy rather than exporting it could be more cost-effective. The only catch? Installing home storage is very pricey upfront.

Find out more about home energy storage systems in our complete guide.

Can I get a Smart Export Guarantee tariff?

Yes, depending on a few things. For example, no matter what type of renewable generation you have, your installation has to be located and fully installed in Great Britain. Also:

  • Your installation must be signed up to the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS), or an equivalent scheme that shows your installation is certified.
  • You’ll need a smart meter or an export meter that can measure the electricity you export, and take half-hourly readings.
  • Your export meter must have an export Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN). If you don’t have this, we can register one for you.
  • You can’t be receiving FIT export payments when signing up for SEG.
  • You can’t be getting any public grants that can make you ineligible for SEG.
  • The size of your system can't be bigger than 5MW.

Go here to read the full terms about FIT export payments.

Which energy companies have Smart Export Guarantee tariffs?

Every UK energy company with more than 150,000 customers offers an SEG tariff. So there’s plenty of choice.

Want to mix and match? You don’t have to get your SEG payments from the same company that supplies your energy.

Can I get SEG payments with OVO?

Definitely. We’re proud to say that we’re an SEG licensee, so if you’re eligible you could get:

Price per kWhType of technologySystem sizeInitial contract
OVO SEG Tariff (AET20)4pAll eligible technologiesSolar, anaerobic digestion, hydro, wind up to 5MW capacity, up to 50kW for micro-combined heat and power (Micro-CHP)12 months

You don’t need to be an OVO member to get our SEG tariff. Your energy supply and your SEG payments are separate.

What are you waiting for? See how much you could save with our home energy plans. 

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Types of Smart Export Guarantee tariffs

There are a few different types of export tariff on the market. 

Fixed rate SEG tariffs

This is the most common type of SEG tariff right now, and it’s pretty straightforward. You get a fixed amount per kWh of electricity that you export. (With OVO, that’s a competitive 4p per kWh.)

Flexible rate SEG tariffs

These flexible tariffs pay more or less for electricity, depending on the time of day you export it. Electricity could be worth more when demand is high, and vice versa. 

Multi-rate SEG tariffs

Like a combination of a fixed tariff and a flexible tariff, a multi-rate tariff offers multiple fixed rates for your electricity. 

For example, you might get a tariff that pays you a certain amount on weekdays, and a different set amount on weekends.

Battery-specific SEG tariffs

These are tariffs that require you to buy and install a specific type of home battery. At the moment, you can only get this kind of tariff with Tesla, or smart storage company Social Energy.

Read more about different types of energy tariff and their advantages and disadvantages.

What’s the difference between the Smart Export Guarantee and Feed-in Tariff?

The Feed-in Tariff (FIT) was a scheme the government launched in 2010, to reward people for producing their own electricity at home. 

Those who receive FIT get 2 payments: one for the electricity they generate, and another for the electricity they export to the grid. The export payment is either based on meter readings, or “deemed”/estimated to be around half of the total electricity generated. 

FIT closed to new applicants in 2019. The SEG was launched on New Year’s Day in 2020, to replace it. There are 3 key differences:

  • The SEG is just 1 payment, rather than 2
  • SEG payments are based on the actual amount of energy exported, while the FIT export payment is sometimes based on an estimate
  • FIT payments were set by the government, but SEG tariff rates are determined by energy suppliers
A house with solar panels on the roof

How do I apply for SEG?

We’re a mandatory SEG licensee at OVO – so we can help you apply for a SEG contract. Just fill out our application form here. Then, email us your:

  • Proof of ID showing your full name – like a valid passport, driver’s licence, or birth certificate.
  • Proof of ownership for your installation – this can be a paid-in-full invoice, or a letter from your installer, building contractor or solicitor that shows you’re the owner. If the system was already installed when you moved into your home, you’ll need a Land Registry document, and a Fixtures and Fittings form – all clearly showing your name and your address.
  • Proof of address – such as a utility bill, or a bank, building society or credit union statement from the last 3 months. You can also send us a council tax bill, an electoral register entry, or an HMRC tax statement for the current year.
  • An MCS certificate or equivalent – you should get this from your installer. You’ll see the certificate number at the top of the document (it’ll look like this: MCS-01234567-A). Or, you might get a Flexi Orb certificate (the number for this will be in the middle of the doc, and it’ll look like this: Flexi-01234567890).
  • Distribution Network Operator (DNO) notification – you can find more information in our complete guide to DNOs

For more info, read the full SEG application form

Smart Export Guarantee FAQs

All your questions about SEG answered

As soon as we have an export MPAN registered for your installation. This can take up to 2 weeks. Once we have it, we’ll get in touch to ask for your meter readings. After that, your contract kicks in. Done.

We send SEG payments quarterly, or every 3 months. 

12 months.

Yes. We’ll ask for these every 3 months, and you can take them from your smart meter (if you don’t know how, it’s best to get in touch with your installer).

If you’re taking your export readings using your meter, it’s easy:

  • Got a first-generation SMETS1 smart meter from OVO? Then, press the 9 button until the Total Active Export or EXP shows, followed by your export reading
  • Got a next-generation SMETS2 smart meter from OVO? Then press the A button until the Total Active Export or EXP shows, followed by your export reading

Not sure which is which? If your serial number starts with 19P, you’ve got a SMETS1 meter. If it starts with 19M, it’s a SMETS2. Find out more about SMETS1 and SMETS2 smart meters in our guide.

After that, you’ll see your export reading (it’ll be followed by EXPkWh).

You can export as much as you want, but the provider of your solar panels will have a set maximum output (you’ll see this on your installation contract). If you extend the capacity of your system, please let us know, so we can verify if you’re still eligible.

Alas, no – SEG payments are made separately to your energy bills, and paid directly into your bank account.

Yes. Your SEG payments and your energy supply are separate. Find oiut more about how to switch energy suppliers when you've got solar panels.

‘Fraid not. In order to switch to SEG you’ll first need to stop your FiT export payments (though you'll still get your FIT generator payments). If you want to opt in and out of your FiT, please note that you can only do this once every 12 months.

Of course. But if you apply for our SEG tariff then you'll need to stop your FiT export payments. OVO doesn't have to be your energy supplier for you to apply for our SEG tariff.

Your SEG contract ends when you sell your home. Please give 28 days' notice, and supply a closing reading. If the new owners want to get SEG payments, they’ll need to sign up for it themselves.

First, you need to check if the previous owners were signed up for FIT. If they were, you’ll need to check who the FIT provider is and complete a ‘Change of ownership’ form. Then you can switch to another provider. 

If the panels haven’t been registered for FIT, then you can only get SEG payments, which you can apply for here.

There are only certain documents that can make you eligible for SEG. If you don’t have them, or can’t send them to us, we’ll have to put your application on hold until we get everything we need. If we don’t hear from you within 3 months, we’ll assume you no longer want to sign up for SEG.

You can always email us at [email protected], or give us a call on 0330 102 7404 (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm). We’ll do our best to help you get your application done. See the full SEG application guide here.

Yes, you can. The SEG pays you for exporting electricity, while the RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) pays you for generating heat.

Let your supplier and us know as soon as possible, as this may affect your SEG payments. If your meter is changed, we also need to know, so that your payments are accurate.

Read more about smart meter problems, and how to fix them without calling an engineer.

We need to make sure the electricity being recorded on your export meter is definitely coming from your system, and not from another source. If you have a battery installed, you’ll need to send us a detailed line diagram clearly showing the direction of energy going from your solar panels to the rest of the installation.

We’re more than happy to take another look at your application. But remember that you have to meet all the criteria needed – otherwise we can’t sign you up for SEG payments.

If you’d like to talk through your situation with our advisers, do get in touch via our Help Centre.