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Is there a limit to how much feed-in tariffs I can get for my solar panels?

Posted by Tasha Kosviner on 9 July 2014 at 10:50 am

Q: My question is in relation to feed-in tariffs for solar pv panels. We have a massive, south-facing roof which could accommodate an 8kw system. We are away from the UK for several months of the year and therefore our entire electricity production could go back to the grid. As we have a smart meter fitted can we get paid for all the electricity we export or is there a limit?

A. The way FITS work you benefit three ways from the power you generate:

  1. You get paid a generation tariff for the amount of electricity you generate;
  2. You get paid an export tariff for the electricity you don't use on site, which gets exported to the national grid;
  3. You save money by using the electricity you generate instead of feeding it back into the grid.

 To your specific question then:

  1. Generation tariff: This is paid on the total amount of electricity you generate so yes - in your case an 8kw system is a good idea if you have the room.
  2. Export tariff: For installations up to 30kW it is usually assumed that you will use 50 per cent of what you generate and export the rest. Therefore you get paid an export tariff for 50 per cent of what you generate. However, if you have an export meter fitted, you can get paid on your actual metered exports, and no, there isn't a limit to this. In your case, since you've away a lot it's likely that you'll use less than 50 per cent and therefore it makes sense to meter your exports. However, be careful: not all smart meters measure exports and not all FITs suppliers approve all models of meter for measuring export. Make sure you shop around a) for a meter that measures exports, and b) for a FITs supplier that recognises your chosen model.
  3. Savings: You will save when you're at the property by using electricity while it's being generated. 

One final point of which you should be aware. You need to give quarterly readings to your FIT supplier so you might want to plan your trips away around this. 

More information

YouGen guide to feed-in tariffs

YouGen guide to solar electricity 

Photo Credit: Bernd Sleker via Compfight cc

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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3 comments - read them below or add one

Tasha Kosviner

Tasha KosvinerComment left on: 16 July 2014 at 11:05 am

@frese If your FIT payments are deemed rather than metered, then no, using a solar switch wouldn't make any difference since it's assumed that you are exporting 50% of the power you generate regardless of whether this is the case or not. 

Using electricity to heat your hot water however is a controversial technology - it is not the most efficient or environmentally sensible use of the electricity you generate, especially if you are on gas anyway. Even if you're talking in purely financial terms it's questionable whether you'd make back the cost of the installation in savings.

See this blog for our readers' views on solar switches. 

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freseComment left on: 15 July 2014 at 3:42 pm

Lately there are smart solar PV power controllers like solarimmersion which divert excess power for local use. Does such diversion affect the FIT payment? What difference does it make?

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BonkimComment left on: 15 July 2014 at 10:58 am

Check with an accredited installer and also your electricity distribution/supply Co whether ther is a limit to maximum installed capacity at your location gor FIT payment, also tariff for installations larger than 4kW.

You may also need to install an export meter if generation is over 4kW - below which it is assumed you export 50% generated. Fitting and maintaining an export meter is usually done by the purchaser of the surplus electricity and would incur cost. Given that export prices are small (~less than a third of retail price for electricity), you need to check overall FIT + export income compared with the marginal increase in revenue from the larger installation even if that was possible.

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