Is it still possible in 2018 to get solar panel grants meaning that you can get a solar panel system paid for and installed on the roof of your home either free or at a massively reduced rate? The answer is no.
However, what the government does do is offer you is an ongoing type of a grant on solar panel installations called the "Feed-In Tariff". This pays you money for the electricity your solar panels generate and these payments are made to you for 20 years after the panels are installed.
However, please be aware though that the Feed-In Tariff schemes ends for homeowners investing in solar panels from April 2019. If you want to be paid by the Government for your solar installation, you have a very limited time left in which to do so.
Why aren’t solar panel offered free anymore?
Free solar panel installations were possible in the past because of the ongoing payments made to the companies which fitted them under the Feed-In Tariff scheme.
The actual amount of money the government paid out with the Feed-In Tariff was so large that companies could actually pay for and install your solar panels free of charge and still make money. Although it was the company which got paid the money from the Feed-In Tariff, you still saved money on your electricity bills.
The Feed-In Tariff scheme is still around but its value has been reduced greatly in the last few years following a change in government attitude in 2016. Prior to that, homeowners were paid 12.47p for every kilowatt hours of energy produced – that went down to 4.39p for every kilowatt hour after the shift in policy. This drop in value meant that it was not economically viable for the rent-a-roof companies to do what they did before.
You might think that this reduction would put people off installing solar panels on their home. In fact, it hasn’t. That’s because, although the government-backed payments may have dropped in value, the cost of solar panels has come down even faster in recent years.
There was another scheme called the Green Deal that you might remember. You’d borrow money from the Government to install solar panels (and other energy saving home improvement measures) and you’d pay the loan back over up to 25 years using the money you’d saved on energy bills. This scheme was discontinued in 2015.
But it’s still worth getting solar panels because of the savings you make on your electricity bills and the money, albeit smaller than before, that you get from both forms of the Feed-In Tariff.
If you’re not sure about installing solar panels on your home, read below for the very latest information to see if that helps you decide one way or another.
What are the benefits of having solar panels installed?
There are many reasons why you should consider fitting your home with a solar panel. For us, the stand-out reasons are:
Although the Feed-In Tariff scheme will soon be closed, those who are quick enough to take advantage of the scheme will benefit from the payments they receive for the electricity they generate. We’ll tell you just what the Feed-In Tariff scheme is later in this article and how to make sure that your solar panel installation entitles you to receive these important payments.
And it’s not just the Feed-In Tariff. Homeowners deciding to invest in solar panels also benefit from permanent reductions to ever-rising electricity bills now and in the future.
Solar panels provide clean, sustainable energy for your home in a way that few other energy sources can. Whether you are particularly environmentally conscious or you would just like to reduce your carbon footprint, solar panels are a great option for the millions of us with genuine concern for the future of the planet.
20-25 year investment
Once you have bought a solar panel, you won’t have to invest in a new system for up to 25 years. Solar panels last a long time and require little or no maintenance. After your installation, you also see a reduction in your personal energy bills, which will save you money in the long run.
More efficient than ever
When solar panels started becoming popular, they didn’t generate anywhere as near as much energy as they do now and, considering the prices systems use to fetch a few years ago, they were a significant investment. Now, solar panels are much more efficient than they ever have been when you think about how much energy they generate.
The maths for homeowners considering installing solar panels add up. They offer value for money, they can pay for themselves over time, they provide clean energy for your home, and you only want to pay once. It’s no surprise that many industry commentators predict that over 10 million homes will have solar panels by 2020.
How much do solar panels cost?
The price of a solar panel installation varies between around £2,800 and £8,300.
The factors that make a difference on the price you pay include how efficient the panels you buy are and the number of panels you go for. Please see the table below for a general guide to what you might expect to pay with differently-configured solar panel systems:
|The Size of the overall solar Panel Installation in m²||The Number of Panels on Your Roof||The Maximum power output of the Solar Panel(kWh)||The Approximate cost of a solar Panel Installation of this Size|
|<14||8||2||£2,800 to £5,200|
|15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21||12||3||£4,800 to £6,200|
|22 or more||16||4||£5,800 to £8,300|
Solar panel installations
On average, each solar panel you install will take up around 4m2 of roof space. Each panel will generate between 400-450 kWh of electricity over the course of a year. To install each individual solar panel will cost you between £350-£525.
Ideally, homeowners should consider solar panels as a long-term investment. The money that you save in energy bills may eventually be more than your installation costs when your earnings from the Feed-In Tariff are factored in.
Additionally, homeowners who choose to fit solar panels see the price of their house rise as a result (although this cannot be guaranteed). That’s why you see so many homeowners install solar panels not long before they move home, even though they’re considered investments that last 20-25 years.
If you want to get the most out of your solar panel installation, take care to make sure that your walls and loft are already insulated. The more energy-efficient your home is, the less energy you will use in total and the lower your bills will be from your utility company.
A home with both insulation and solar panels means that you’ll spend even less money on your energy bills now and in the future.
How can the government help?
Because there are so many benefits associated with installing solar panels both for homeowners and the environment, the government offer several incentive schemes to persuade more people to invest in them.
There are two main schemes. One is called the Feed-in Tariff (designed to reward electricity generation) and the other is called the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (designed to reward the amount of hot water generated by your system).
Here’s a quick explanation of how they both work and what they mean to you:
The feed-in tariff
This is the primary incentive that the government provides to homeowners and it’s specifically designed to encourage the installation of more and more of solar panels in the UK.
It’s not like a traditional grant that a government offers to cover either all or part of the cost of the solar panels. Instead, what the feed-in tariff does is to pay you for the electricity that you produce over the course of 20 years.
The tariff pays homeowners who generate electricity using solar panels. You’re paid per unit of electricity and that’s measured in something called kilowatts per hour (kWh). The actual amount per kWh you’re paid is fixed according to the year in which you get your solar panels installed. So, even in the unlikely event of the cost of electricity coming down, you will be paid the same - no matter what.
Another important benefit of the government’s feed-in tariff is that you won’t pay tax on the money that you earn through the scheme. Better still, the money that you make won’t even contribute towards your tax-free personal allowance each year (£11,850 from April 2018).
Important note – The feed-in tariff will be closing to new applicants in April 2019. The government has yet to announce any replacements for the scheme. If you want to make the most of the additional savings that this scheme offers, make sure you get quotes in quickly.
There are two separate types of payment with the feed-in tariff. They’re called the “generation tariff” and the “export tariff”. Here’s a brief explanation of how different tariffs work:
The generation tariff
This is a set amount paid on the energy you produce as measured in kilowatts per hour.
There are different payments for different types of system based upon the year of installation, the type of installation you have, and how much output your system can generate.
However, nearly every homeowner who installs solar panels will be paid the following:
|Quoater and Year||Date Range||Generation Tariff||Export Tariff|
|Q3 2018||1st of July - 30th of September||3.93p per kilowatt hour||5.24p per kilowatt hour|
The tariff payments change every quarter – they’re normally adjusted for inflation. For the most up-to-date tariff information, click here to visit Ofgem’s tariff charts. Ofgem is the regulatory watchdog for energy consumers in the UK.
The export tariff
This is a payment based upon the amount of electricity that your solar panel installations generates that is in excess of the energy your house needs. The “export tariff” is the price you get for selling this surplus electricity back to the National Grid. The export tariff currently pays 5.24p per kilowatt hour.
You can only sell up to 50% of the energy you generate back to the national grid for the export tariff.
Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive
Another scheme that the government is using to try to persuade people to install solar panels is via the “Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive”. As with the feed-in tariffs, the aim of the scheme is to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by encouraging people to power their homes using renewable energy sources.
Anyone who joins the scheme will receive quarterly payments based around the estimated amount of energy their system has produced that came from renewable sources.
To qualify for the scheme, the renewable energy heating technology that you choose for your home must be one of the following:
- Biomass boilers and biomass pellet stoves,
- Air source heat pumps,
- Ground source heat pumps, or,
- Flat plate and evacuated tube solar thermal panels.
If your application is successful (more on that below), you receive quarterly payments from the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive based on the total amount of energy produced by your heating system as long as you abide by the scheme’s rules. You’ll have to declare once a year that you’re in compliance with the scheme and you’ll be paid 20.06 per kWh for seven years after installation.
How do I qualify for the schemes?
Your installer needs to be a member of the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). That’s the government body overseeing the installation of renewable energy systems in people’s homes and businesses.
Please make sure that you choose an installer registered with the MCS before committing to purchase a system for your home.
When your installation has been successfully completed, the company you’ve chosen to do it will give you a valid MCS certificate. You then send that off to the organisations running the Feed-in Tariff and Renewable Heat Incentive schemes to register. Shortly afterwards, you’ll begin to receive your Feed-in Tariff and Renewable Heat Incentive payments.
Find the right supplier with us
There are lots of reputable and experienced solar panel installation companies you can choose if you’ve made the decision to go ahead. But which one is best for you?
There are three things to consider.
- is this the right system for your home? Make sure you speak with your potential installers about what it is you want from your solar panel installation and ask them to show you how their system meets your requirements. For example, make sure that you’re happy with the panels and the amount of electricity they produce if you’re looking for solar PV panels.
- is the price right? The best way to get the cheapest solar panel installation suitable for your home is to shop around. When installers are in competition against each other, you’ll find that the prices you’re offered drops and the quality remains pretty much the same.
- do you trust and like the person you’re dealing with? They’re going to add something big and expensive to your roof that will last for a quarter of a century. Trust your gut feeling – it’s normally right.
How to start? Fill in the form on the page and we’ll put you in touch with 3-4 local, certified MCS solar panel installation companies. They’ll come around to your home, talk to you about what they want, and then leave you with a quote. .
There’s no cost to our service, all installer quotes are free, and you’re under no obligation to accept any of the quotes provided by the installers.