All utility companies have to pay homeowners for any surplus energy sent back to the grid from your home solar PV system.
This one change alone can make a homeowner with solar 14.8% better off due to the feed-in tariffs you get paid.
This is officially called the Clean Export Guarantee (CEG) Tariff, though most people call is the Feed-In Tariff. Sometimes you'll hear it called the Clean Export Tariff and Micro-generation Support Scheme too. These all mean the same thing.
The current winner (as of Oct 2023) is Pinergy on 25 cents / kWh, closely followed by SSE Airtricity and Energia on 24 cents / kWh.
Each energy supplier sets their own feed-in tariffs rates, and we have seen a fair number of changes since the Clean Export Guarantee (CEG) Tariff - to give it it's official title - was brought in back in 2022. We have seen the title of Best Rates for Feed-in tariff change hands many times already.
The current rates as of writing (20th October 2023) are:
|Pinergy||25 cents / kWh|
|SSE Airtricity||24 cents / kWh|
|Energia||24 cents / kWh|
|Electric Ireland||21 cents / kWh|
|Flogas||20 cents / kWh|
|Bord Gais||18.5 cents / kWh|
Yes, but you have to buy from them too. You can only have one electricity company that you both buy from and sell to. So, if you want to avail of another electricity supplier's better feed-in tariffs, then you'll need to change over to make them your electricity supplier.
No, is the short answer. Most solar installations will export between 10% and 40% of the power they make back out to the grid (depending on your own PV system design and usage).
If you have a battery installed, the surplus energy charges your battery first. But even with a battery, on a sunny summer's day, chances are you'll have that full, and the surplus energy you generate gets diverted back to the grid.
Even if you happen to both use and generate 20 units of electricity on one particular day, it's very unlikely that your production and generations will line up exactly. Solar panels tend to produce nice steady electricity, whereas most of us homeowners tend to use electricity in peaks and troughs. During your troughs you will likely be exporting your generation to the grid, and getting paid for it.
New smart meters are rolling out across the country. These are able to measure electricity flow in both directions, so they track electricity you export to the grid and automatically send that information to your utility company.
The meters before smart-meters only measure electricity one way: in-bound. If you do not have a smart meter yet, then your utility company will estimate what they think you will have exported and you will be paid based on that estimate.
If you have one of those really old meters with a wheel in, then yes they do run backwards when you are exporting! They measure your net usage. ESB Networks & utilties companies are very keen to get the last of those replaced, but as of writing there are still some around the country including on houses with solar.
It has a huge effect. The financial benefits of adding solar panels to your home were always good, but this has moved them up another level.
Here are the numbers for a typical 3-bedroom house here in Ireland. We've done the numbers both before and after the feed-in tariffs were introduced to show the improvement it's made.
|Old Figures (before feed-in tariffs were introduced)||Current Figures (including feed-in tariffs)|
|Cost to Homeowner||€5,880||€5,880|
|Payback period||5 years 1 month|| 4 years 4 months |
Nine months faster to payback
|Net Lifetime Savings||€43,804|| €50,290 |
That's an extra €6,486, which is a 14.8% improvement
No problem. Firstly, here are the before and after financials:
Those who qualify for the CEG payment also enjoy a tax exemption on the first €200 they sell to their supplier. For the vast majority of people who have solar panel installations below 6kW (which is generally the largest size you get on houses), there will be no need to declare their income from the CEG.
Yes there's the obvious benefit of getting money from by your utility company, and that means your solar panels pay for themselves in an even shorter time.
Also though it can reduce the upfront investment needed, as for some people this has meant a battery is no longer required.
Before the Clean Export Guarantee was introduced in 2022, people with solar panels on their homes just gave away any surplus electricity for free to the grid. That was understanbly a bit heart breaking, and so many felt the need to invest in storage batteries to save the spare power generated for later.
Solar storage batteries are expensive though - adding €2,400 - €2,800 to the price of the full installation. Now that you can get paid for your spare energy, for some people removed the nneed to invest in a storage battery, significantly reducing the the upfront investment required.
Non-domestic installations (e.g. on farms and community centres), that are between 6kWp and 50kWp, will get the Clean Export Premium (CEP) tariff. These non-domestic solar installations, will get €0.135/kWh in 2023.
This is capped at 80% of generation capacity, to encourage self-consumption. This means if you have a farm with a 10kWp solar array installed, then you will get paid for the amount you are exporting back to the grid up to a maximum of 8kW at any particular time.
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