Export using Smart Meters: Smart Metering - The full story

Export and Smart Meters

Export and Smart Meters have had a slow and frustrating start to life. This is not down to the Smart Meters themselves as they all operate with exported power and have done so for many years. The problem is the implementation of the systems by suppliers to support even basic export functionality. Even today many suppliers have not bothered to implement export functionality in their systems for the following reasons:

  • Low number of export customers
  • High implementation costs
  • Low profit margins
  • Export customers require more service support
  • Government drivers are based on the number of smart meter installations, not on the range of functionality supported.
domestic wiring for solar cells
Typical Domestic Wiring for Solar Cells

Export Schemes

There is one current export tariff scheme, the Smart Export Guarantee. The older Feed in Tariff scheme has ended for new customers.

Feed in Tariff (FIT)

The FIT scheme was created to encourage homeowners to invest in renewable or low carbon energy generating technology, such as:

  • Solar panels
  • Wind turbines
  • Hydro turbines
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Micro-combined heat and power (micro-CHP).

Contracts under the scheme were generally for 20 - 25 years at a fixed rate published by Ofgem. Installations had to have a peak output of no more than 5 MW, or 2 kW for micro-CHP and be certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, or the ROO-FIT process for hydro and anaerobic digestion.

FIT payments are calculated in two parts:

The Generation Tariff
You get paid this fixed rate for the total amount of electricity you produce. There are different tariff rates according to the type of installation you have. If you have an export meter, you will be paid for exactly how much you generate.
The Export Tariff
You get paid this fixed rate for the amount of electricity that you put back to the National Grid. If you don't have an export meter then your export amount is estimated to be 50% of what you generate (except for hydro installations at 75%) - this is known as Deemed Export. If you have an export meter, you will be paid for exactly how much you generate.

The tariff rate varies depending on when your contract started. When the FIT scheme was first introduced in April 2010 exporters were receiving over 40p per kWh of electricity. This tariff was reduced on a quarterly basis until, in March 2019 when the scheme closed, applicants received less than 4p for generated electricity and just over 5p for exported electricity.

The FIT rates are published annually on 1st April by Ofgem.

The FIT scheme closed in March 2019 because uptake had been much higher than anticipated. Anyone already registered with the scheme will continue to receive their FIT payments for the full 20-25 year term, and can if they wish switch to the Smart Export Guarantee scheme. However FIT rates were very generous when the scheme first launched so it's unlikely that you will earn as much from switching to a SEG tariff compared with your FIT tariff.

Ofgem have provided a good document describing the FIT scheme for exporters.

Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)

The Smart Export Guarantee started on 1st January 2020 and is a scheme introduced by the government to enable owners of certain renewable energy technologies to earn an income by selling their excess electricity to the National Grid. The SEG scheme is available to owners of renewable energy generation systems including solar photovoltaic (solar PV) panels, wind, micro combined heat and power (CHP), hydro and anaerobic digestion (AD) with an export capacity of 5MW or less (50kW or less for micro-CHP); anything bigger than this falls under normal commercial schemes and not the SEG government supported scheme.

The generation system you install needs to include a smart meter which tracks how much electricity is being exported; all smart meters are capable of this. Half hourly measurement is not essential.

Note that electricity sourced form a battery is not necessarily eligible for payments under SEG, this is up to individual suppliers.

The scheme legally requires energy suppliers with more than 150,000 customers to provide at least one export only tariff, i.e. you do not need to have your import tariff with that same supplier. Beyond this other export tariffs may be combined with import tariffs. Smaller suppliers can also facilitate the scheme on a voluntary basis.

How much you receive will depend on which SEG licensed energy supplier's export tariff you choose. The government has said that energy suppliers must offer more than 0p per kWh at all times in order to encourage exporters. This is relevant as the half-hourly price of electricity sometimes goes negative, but this rule means you won't have to pay the supplier when you export at those times.

Your SEG licensee does not always need to be the same company which supplies your electricity, so you have the option to shop around for the best deal.

Application for SEG

These are the steps your supplier will probably take when you apply for SEG.

  1. Install a smart meter if you don't already have one.
  2. Request from you proof of your ID showing your full name.
  3. Request from you proof of your address.
  4. Request from you proof of ownership of the generator.
  5. Request from you a copy of the MCS (Micro-generation certification scheme) certificate or equivalent scheme certificate. This is to demonstrate the installation and installer are suitably certified.
  6. Request from you a copy of the G59/G83/G98/G99 form sent to the DNO (Distribution Network Operator) by your installer and the response if your generator has a declared net capacity of greater than 16A per phase. This is to show that your generator has been approved by the DNO.
  7. The supplier will check with Ofgem that your generator is not receiving FIT export payments. You can't receive both.
  8. Register a new export MPAN (Meter Point Administration Number) with the DNO if your generator doesn't already have one.
  9. Most suppliers do not pay for export from batteries (known as brown energy) and therefore require proof that the battery export will not be measured by the export meter. It is upto each supplier whether they include brown energy or not.
  10. Set up your export account on their billing system.
  11. Request from you an initial export meter reading with an image as evidence.

Fixed or Variable Tariff

At the moment most SEG tariffs are fixed price meaning that the price you receive per kWh will not change no matter what happens to the wholesale price of electricity or the time of day your electricity is exported. Fixed means that the price is set for the contract length.

A variable tariff mean that the supplier can change the price they pay having given you the notice period stated in the contract. Over time it is expected that more tariffs will become variable. With a smart tariff you could, for example, receive a higher price for electricity you export during times of peak demand. Some tariffs may offer a different rate depending on whether you export at night or during the day or prices could vary every half-hour to reflect market prices.

Certification

For PV, wind and micro-CHP installations up to 50kW, applicants to SEG will be asked to demonstrate that their installation and installer are suitably certified. This may be a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certificate, but other schemes are available.

SEG Certification Requirements
Technology Capacity Installation certification? Installer certification?
Micro-CHP, solar PV, wind ≤50kW Yes Yes
Micro-CHP, solar PV, wind >50kW-5MW Yes No
AD, hydro ≤5MW Yes No

Ofgem have provided a good document giving the details of the SEG scheme for exporters.

Suppliers' SEG Tariffs

As all large suppliers are required to offer a SEG tariff it is worth shopping around for the best rate - they vary wildly!

We believe that exporters should be paid for what they export based on market rates. As the electricity market is priced every half-hour it makes sense to have an export tariff with half-hourly pricing. Octopus are the only company with a half-hourly tariff, although this is in the beta stage currently.

Supplier's SEG Tariffs
Company Tariff Name Fixed Tariff Half Hourly Tariff Website
Avro Energy Smart Export Tariff Yes No https://support.avroenergy.co.uk/hc/en-us/articles/360013717277-Smart-Export-Guarantee
British Gas Export and Earn Flex tariff Yes No https://www.britishgas.co.uk/help-and-support/my-account/smart-export-guarantee
Bulb Export and Earn Flex tariff Yes No https://bulb.co.uk/export/
EDF Energy Export+Earn tariff Yes No https://www.edfenergy.com/for-home/energy-efficiency/smart-export-tariff
Eon Fix & Export Yes No https://www.eonenergy.com/smart-export-guarantee.html
Green Energy Yes No https://www.greenenergyuk.com/HomeGeneration
Octopus Outgoing Octopus - Agile (beta product) No Yes https://octopus.energy/outgoing/
Octopus Outgoing Octopus - Fixed Yes No https://octopus.energy/outgoing/
Ovo Yes No https://www.ovoenergy.com/guides/energy-guides/smart-export-guarantee
People's Energy Smart Export Tariff Yes No https://peoplesenergy.co.uk/our-energy/tariffs/smart-export-guarantee
Pure Planet Smart Export Guarantee tariff Yes No https://purepla.net/tariff/seg
Scottish Power Smart Export Variable Yes No https://www.scottishpower.co.uk/energy-efficiency/smart-export-guarantee
Shell Energy Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) Tariff Yes No https://www.shellenergy.co.uk/services/smart-export-guarantee
SO Energy Smart Export Tariff Yes No https://help.so.energy/support/solutions/articles/7000054041-exporting-energy-smart-export-guarantee
SSE Smart Export Tariff Yes No https://sse.co.uk/help/energy/smart-export-guarantee
Utilita Yes No https://utilita.co.uk/help/our-schemes
Utility Warehouse UW Smart Export Guarantee Yes No https://uw.co.uk/legal/energy-information/smart-export-guarantee

Comparison of FIT and SEG

The evolution of government backed schemes has been driven by the extent to which subsides occur and the availability of Smart Meters. So the earlier scheme was more generous and estimated the export, whereas the latest scheme is less generous and uses Smart Meters to measure the actual export.

Comparison of the SEG & FIT Schemes
Subject Feed-in Tariff Smart Export Guarantee
Tariff range Same tariff for all applicants, regardless of electricity supplier, set by Ofgem. Different tariffs depending on which electricity supplier you choose.
Tariff type Fixed tariff for 20-25 years after installation. Suppliers can change tariff and offer options such as fixed or flexible.
Electricity payments Two payments: generated electricity and estimated exported electricity. A single payment for exported electricity.
Payments calculation Generated electricity is metered but exported electricity usually estimated at 50% of generation. Exported electricity metered by a smart meter (30 minute readings).
Certification required MCS certification MCS or equivalent, e.g. Flexi-Orb
Scheme funding The FIT was paid for by a levy on all customers' energy bills. The SEG is paid by energy companies who buy the power.

What certification is required?

Any power source which gets connected to the public electricity grid must have the appropriate certification. This confirms that it operates safely and within the supply limitations. For example if the grid fails, all power sources must detach themselves in order avoid electrocuting engineers who will be working on the overhead lines and cables to restore power.

The ENA (Energy Networks Association) have an excellent web page giving the full details of what is required including all the forms: https://www.energynetworks.org/operating-the-networks/connecting-to-the-networks.

The two types of certification you require will be one for the equipment you are installing and another for the installation itself.

Equipment Certification

If your equipment has been type approved then you will need to use G98 to make an application, or if your equipment is not yet type approved or is customised then you will need the G99 application process. However the DNO could push you down the G99 route if they are not happy with the performance of the equipment in some way.

You can search on the Energy Networks Association website to see if your equipment is approved on the ENA Type Test Register.

EREC G98

EREC (Engineering Recommendation) G98 applies to equipment which is pre-tested by the manufacturer and may not supply more than 3.68kW or 16A per phase to the grid. In this category would be most off-the-shelf solar PV inverters. Before 27th April 2019 the G83 approval process applied.

EREC G100

G100 is a variant of G98 where there is more than 3.68kW of connected generation, but will only provide 3.68kW of that to the grid.

EREC G99

G99 covers anything else. So you can design and build any type of electrical generator, but the testing and on-site commissioning must be done by an authorised company, which in almost all cases is the local DNO. Before 27th April 2019 the G59 approval process applied.

Installation Certification

Certification of the installation and the installer where required should be carried out by certification bodies who hold UKAS accreditation to standards EN 45011 or EN ISO/IEC 17065:2012. Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) is often used for SEG certification. (Page updated: 2021-04-26)


Questions & Answers


What is the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)?
The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) is the new scheme that came into force on 1st January 2020 and requires energy suppliers to purchase exported electricity. You can read more about the Smart Export Guarantee on Ofgem's website. (Updated: 2021-04-11)

Does my IHD show export?
Unfortunately your IHD (In Home Display) does not show the export readings. You will have to go to your meter to get them. (Updated: 2021-06-17)

Does the Export MPAN get a daily charge?
It is up to the supplier what daily charge they apply. So far we have only seen daily charges on the import MPAN (Meter Point Administration Number), none on the export MPAN. (Updated: 2021-06-17)

What happens if within a 30-minute period I consume from the grid for 15 minutes and export for the remaining 15 minutes?
Your smart meter will measure the import and export values and report these in 30-minute blocks. So if for example you consume 1kWh from 09:00 to 09:15 then at 09:15 you start exporting and export 2 kWh from 09:16 to 09:30 then your bill will show both 1 kWh consumption and 2 kWh export in the 9:00 to 9:30 period. Your export amount is not deducted from the consumption amount. (Updated: 2021-04-11)

How much data is stored on a Smart Meter?
The SMETS2 specification requires the following data to be recorded and stored.
Half-hourly electricity data:
  • 13 months of consumption (Active Energy Import)
  • 3 months of active energy exported
  • 3 months of reactive energy imported
  • 3 months of reactive energy exported.
Gas data:
  • 3 months of half-hourly consumption
  • 13 months of monthly consumption.
(Updated: 2020-11-07)

I just bought a house with solar panels. What do I do?
First, you need to check if the previous owners were signed up for FIT (Feed In Tariff). If they were, you'll need to check who the FIT provider is and complete a 'Change of ownership' form. You could then switch to another provider if you wished.
If the solar panels haven't been registered for FIT, then you can only get SEG (Smart Export Guarantee) payments. (Updated: 2021-04-21)

Do SMETS2 meters support solar panels?
Yes all SMETS2 meters support solar panels as this was included in the SMETS2 specification. However, this does not mean your suppliers will support it. A lot of work is required in a supplier's back office systems to set up the meter correctly, and process and store the messages required to operate export properly.
We suggest you check with your own supplier whether they can support export yet. (Updated: 2021-02-12)

What if I move home and I'm on SEG?
Your SEG contract is between you and the supplier so it ends when you sell your home. Most suppliers will want at least 28 days' notice.
The new owners of your house will need to sign a new contract. (Updated: 2021-04-21)

How does the smart meter record energy generation if a solar panel is installed?
All smart meters will record the export and import separately, and you will be able to see the readings by stepping through them on the meter display. All the meters should show all 4 power quadrants. You can ignore the reactive ones and just look at active import and export.

Power quadrants:
  • Active energy import (Wh) - this is what we are billed for normally
  • Reactive energy import (varh)
  • Active energy export (Wh) - this is your useful export power
  • Reactive energy export (varh).
The bad news is that many companies have not set up their systems to automatically collect or use the export information, as it would have taken time and money they don't have for such a low volume user base. (Updated: 2018-10-02)

I get Feed in Tariff payments at the moment. Can I sign up for SEG too?
No. You can sign up to a supplier's SEG tariff, but first you'll need to stop your Feed in Tariff (FIT) export payments with your current export supplier. (Updated: 2021-04-20)

Can my SEG tariff be backdated?
Your supplier will not get any benefit until your export MPAN is registered to them, so the tariff will not be backdated. (Updated: 2021-04-20)

Can I get SEG Payments if I received a government grant for the installation?
Yes, you can receive SEG payments if you received an installation grant from the government. The Smart Export Guarantee is separate from installation grants. (Updated: 2021-04-20)

Can I receive payments for SEG and RHI at the same time?
Yes, you can receive both payments. The SEG supports exporting surplus electricity to the National Grid, while the RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) supports renewable heat generation. (Updated: 2021-04-20)


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