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Suppliers given end-of-year deadline for smart solar export tariff

Image: Nottingham City Council

Image: Nottingham City Council

The government has issued a deadline of 31 December 2019 for suppliers to provide an export tariff for solar generators.

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) requires any licensed supplier with over 150,000 domestic customers to provide at least one export tariff. Smaller suppliers can take part on a voluntary basis but will be held to the same operational requirements as larger suppliers.

The design of the tariff is being left up to the individual supplier, which the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) says is to allow for innovation and quick implementation. However, it is expected that over time tariffs will become increasingly smart.

The small-scale feed-in tariff closed on 31 March 2019, leaving a policy gap for domestic renewables in its wake. When the SEG was first announced in January 2019, no date for when it would be implemented was provided.

Now, suppliers have until 2020 to get an export tariff up and running. No minimum floor price has been introduced, allowing suppliers to set their own rate, so long as it is above zero.

Two suppliers - E.On and Octopus Energy - are already providing export tariffs, although E.On’s offering is limited to the first 500 customers and lasts only for a year. Octopus is offering two tariffs; a flat rate offering 5.5p per kWh of exported electricity and a variable rate dubbed Agile Octopus.

Chris Skidmore, stand-in energy minister, said: “We want the energy market to innovate and it’s encouraging to see some suppliers already offering competitive export tariffs to reduce bills.”

However, Léonie Greene, director of advocacy and new markets at the Solar Trade Association, said the STA will be watching the market “like a hawk” to see if the offers coming forward properly value the power that smart solar homes can contribute to the decarbonisation of the grid.

Legislation enacting the SEG will be laid in Parliament today. It will be implemented through the Smart Export Guarantee Order 2019, along with modifications to the Conditions of the Electricity Supply Licence.

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