In the past, government-backed schemes such as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and the feed-in tariff (FIT) supported businesses to invest in technologies that are more sustainable. For example, a business that installed solar panels on spare land or roof space may save money by not paying a supplier, and even generate income if there is a surplus by selling it back to the grid via the FIT.
But with the closure of RHI and FIT to new entrants in recent years, the government launched an alternative on 1 January 2020. The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) requires electricity suppliers to pay small-scale generators for low-carbon electricity, which they export back to the National Grid subject to criteria.
Who does the SEG apply to?
Any business using one of the following technologies may be a SEG Generator:
- Solar photovoltaic (solar PV)
- Micro combined heat and power (micro-CHP)
- Anaerobic digestion (AD)
These installations must be located in Great Britain, and not exceed a capacity of 5 megawatt (MW) (or 50 kilowatt (kW) for micro-CHP).
Seek the best tariff for your business
Businesses with renewable capacity already benefiting from the SEG should continue to shop around to see which tariff is best for their individual circumstances.
This is because power companies (known as SEG Licensees) determine the price they will pay SEG Generators for energy, the contract length and other terms. There can be big differences between the highest and lowest SEG rates.
If you’re considering installing renewable generation, now is the time to explore your options: research the criteria, rules and tariff rates, and build an investment case for it. Take into account the cost of installing the system and maintenance fees to calculate how long it will take your renewable system to pay for itself.
Where to find out more
Monitor the government’s advice on the SEG to stay up to date.
Visit the Carbon Trust for news and insight on how UK businesses can reach net zero.