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The Smart Export Guarantee Explained

Author: Jack Lloyd
Updated: Dec 20, 2023
6 minutes read
  • Generate electricity using renewable sources
  • Get paid for energy exported to the national grid
  • Find out how the Smart Export Guarantee can help you

Many people who live in England, Scotland and Wales are able to take advantage of the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). Continue reading to find out more about this and whether you’re eligible for it. Find out more about the Smart Export Guarantee rates and learn about how to apply for it.

Solar panels on a roof

What is The Smart Export Guarantee?

The SEG is an initiative which aims to help small-scale generators get paid for the renewable electricity they’re exporting to the grid. It was launched in January 2020. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to take advantage of the scheme if you live in Northern Ireland.

What Do I Need to Qualify for The Smart Export Guarantee?

If you have one of the renewable energy generating technologies listed below in your home or business premises, you may be able to apply for the Smart Export Guarantee.

  • Solar PV panels
  • A wind turbine
  • Hydropower
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Micro combined heat and power (micro-CHP)

The Feed-in Tariff scheme was closed to new applicants in March 2019. However, the government launched the Smart Export Guarantee shortly afterwards. This reflected the continued requirement to reward small-scale renewable energy generators for the electricity they were exporting to the grid.

Which Companies Are Obliged To Offer A Smart Export Guarantee Tariff?

The scheme requires all energy companies that have at least 150,000 customers to offer a Smart Export Guarantee tariff to them. However, energy suppliers with fewer customers than this are welcome to offer a tariff if they wish to do so. Options are available to companies seeking other ways of paying their customers for exported electricity outside of Smart Export Guarantee arrangements.

Which Standards Does My Technology or Installation Need to Meet?

To be able to benefit from the Smart Export Guarantee, the installation needs to be certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). Your energy supplier will likely ask for an MSC certificate that shows your installation meets the required standard. You also need to have a registered smart meter installed, which can record the amount of electricity that you’re exporting.

How Much Will I Get For Exporting My Electricity?

Energy suppliers don't have any minimum tariffs imposed on them. The tariff simply needs to be more than zero. This means energy suppliers have the freedom to decide the rates. Some suppliers have been offering several tariffs, whilst others have opted to stick with just one. Interested in earning money? Find out what solar panels cost.

Take a look at the Smart Export Guarantee rates on the market in the interactive graph below. These are constantly changing, so it's worth keeping an eye out for the best rates. We've included some of the best (and worst) in the interactive graph below.

Are SEG Tariffs Fixed or Variable?

Smart Export Guarantee tariffs can be fixed or variable. If you’re on a fixed tariff, you’ll be paid a pre-determined rate for each kWh of electricity that you export during the contract. With a variable tariff, prices can change in line with current market demand as long as they don’t fall below zero.

Can I Get SEG Payments Alongside Other Forms of Support Including Grants?

It is possible to receive multiple forms of support, unless you are already receiving payments under the FIT scheme. If you are under the British Gas feed-in-tariff scheme or another company’s FIT initiative but want to switch to the Smart Export Guarantee, you can do this. However, you’ll need to opt-out of your export payments. You can still get access to FIT generation payments. SEG payments aren’t connected to other types of renewable energy support. Some people in Scotland have been receiving Smart Export Guarantee payments alongside loans from Home Energy Scotland.

Can I receive SEG payments from multiple suppliers?

No. You will only be able to receive the Smart Export Guarantee from a single supplier.

Are there any rules around energy storage?

You may be able to apply for the Smart Export Guarantee if you have an energy storage system as part of your renewable installation. However, we do advise you to check your contract or talk to your supplier before you presume anything. It may be possible for you to store brown electricity (this is electricity from the grid) and export it further down the line.

Can I receive payments for exporting brown electricity?

Energy suppliers are not obliged to pay you for any brown electricity you’ve exported to the grid. However, some may choose to do this. You may only receive payments for your green electricity. This is the electricity that’s generated from your system itself. Some suppliers will ask you how you are separating imported brown electricity from green electricity. If you don’t know how to do this, your installer may be able to assist you.

More FAQs about the Smart Export Guarantee

What alternative finance arrangements are available?

Some energy suppliers are offering similar deals to the Smart Export Guarantee to their customers by paying them for the power that they’re exporting to the grid. If you are interested in taking advantage of one of these deals, your supply and generation may need to be metered. These deals don’t often last long, and you may need to agree to rules such as buying the electricity you’re supplied with from that supplier. If you do want to enter into one of these agreements, you’ll need to read the terms and conditions very carefully and compare various deals to get the best option for you.

People who live in Scotland who are yet to install a form of renewable energy technology can apply for interest-free loans from Home Energy Scotland. However, you won’t be eligible if you begin the installation process before you have been given a loan offer in writing.

What Kinds of Renewable Energy Technology Are Available?

There are various types of renewable energy technology on the market. All of these can make use of Smart Export Guarantee payments.

Solar PV Systems

Solar PV or solar photovoltaic systems consist of solar cells. These have semiconducting properties that enable them to generate electric current thanks to a process which is known as the PV effect. In these systems, inverters feed electricity into people’s homes as well as business premises.


Hydropower uses the natural flow of water to generate power. The flow of water is used to create electricity via a turbine. There are various types of installation available. What kind of installation is right for you could depend on what the water source is as well as the nature of your site itself.

Onshore Wind

Once a wind turbine has been installed, kinetic energy derived from wind can be used to make electricity. This electricity can then be used around your home or your business premises.

Micro-combined Heat and Power

The idea behind this concept is to generate both heat and electricity simultaneously. This option aims to ensure that as little heat and electricity is wasted as possible. One big problem with conventional energy production is that a great deal of energy and heat tends to be wasted.

Anaerobic Digestion

This process is used to create biogas. The biogas can either be used as a fuel or to generate electricity via a CHP or Combined Heat and Power engine.

The Benefits of Renewable Energy

There are many big advantages to renewable energy. If you want to make a better contribution to the world around you and get paid for the power you’re generating but not using in the process, schemes like the Smart Export Guarantee could be ideal for your needs. One of the biggest advantages of renewable energy is that it doesn’t run out, unlike fossil fuels. Renewable energy is also more reliable than fossil fuels, the prices of which can change dramatically depending on political factors and market forces. Another big benefit of renewable energy is the fact that it has no or minimal carbon emissions.

If you're still not convinced, check out whether solar panels are worth it.

Moving to renewable energy may help overcome or slow down many problems like poor air quality and climate change. By reducing our greenhouse emissions and other substances that pollute the environment, we can improve the quality of our air and soil. The renewable energy industry is also creating a high number of jobs, which is excellent news for the economy. It also tends to cost much less to maintain renewable energy stations as opposed to traditional power stations.


More and more people are taking advantage of the Smart Export Guarantee to get paid for the electricity that they generate. You may be able to receive export payments if you are generating more electricity than you are using, whether you’re a home or business owner. If you are the owner of a renewable energy generation unit and your generation unit has a capacity of up to 5MW, you may well be able to take advantage of this scheme.

You will also need to have a meter that can record the energy you’re exporting to the grid every half hour. Remember, your installation needs to be certified to the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, or Flexi-Orb. It’s also important to note that you will lose your FiT export payment if you move to the Smart Export Guarantee Nonetheless, there are many compelling reasons to make the switch to renewable energy technologies, including the various incentives attached to them.

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