What is the Export Tariff?

Is the Export Tariff the same as the Feed in Tariff?


In the Export Tariff funded by taxes?

No, it is included with people’s bills

So, is the Export Tariff a subsidy?

No, it is a method for people with solar to sell electricity to the grid at market rates (when you include the losses in transmission)

So, what does the government want to do?

The Export tariff will end on the 29th March 2019. This means that any electricity exported from a new domestic solar PV array will be given to the grid for free, and then the energy companies sell this electricity back at a profit

I need a metaphor to understand this

Imagine you grow your own food, and grow too much for yourself. You are banned from selling it, but someone from Sainsbury’s comes in to your garden, steals your food and sells it to your neighbours. Unfair, right? Well that’s what the government is doing to solar

Is that legal?

Under EU rules, probably not, so it depends on the Brexit deal as to if the government is allowed to do this.

But doesn’t this only effect rich homeowners? I heard on BBC File on Four people get a 12% rate of return on solar installation investments.

That’s not true, the highest rate of return was 11% in 2011. Since then, the rate of return has substantially decreased. Also, that’s talking about the Feed in Tariff, not the Export Tariff

But still, it only effects rich homeowners with cash to spare right?

No, the solar industry in 2015 employed 36,000 hard working people. Since various anti-solar policies came in, this has dropped to maybe 15,000 people. These are direct jobs, there are additional jobs supported, such as scaffolds. The loss of the Export Tariff will result in thousands more job losses.

Also, as well as supporting many small British companies, solar is used by social housing landlords, hospitals, schools, community energy projects and a range of other organisations.

But the government is supporting solar in other ways?

No, from the “solar tax” element of business rates, making the grid connection process more complex, reducing the Feed in Tariff by random large amounts (sometimes illegally), and also removing rules to have renewables on new build, the solar industry has not had a positive experience of government policy.

But the UK is really dark anyway, surely solar doesn’t make much electricity?

In 2018, on a sunny summer day at midday solar generated up to 27% of UK electricity. The UK has 12GW of solar.

Why is the Export Tariff removal happening?

We don’t know

Can I do anything about this?


  1. First, sign this petition: https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/page/s/stop-the-solar-attack
  2. If you run a company, sign this letter: https://www.solar-trade.org.uk/sign-letter-on-export-tariffs/
  3. Then, write to your MP through this link: https://1010uk.org/supportsolar (or write independently)
  4. Next, go and see your MP, find their details from: https://www.theyworkforyou.com

More info at: http://www.solar-trade.org.uk/campaigns/fair4solar

New build estates may not be able to cope with renewables

With the increasing penetration of new renewable technologies (generation, heat pumps & electric vehicles) within housing estates it is worth noting that not all estates are created equally. In fact many modern housing estates with have their electrical network built and controlled by an Independent Distribution Network Operator (IDNO). IDNOs build electrical networks to different requirements to traditional Distribution Network Operators (DNOs). This has a major impact on what additional technologies a housing estate can cope with.

In some areas ≥50% of new connections to the electricity distribution system are being undertaken by IDNOs. The majority of these works take the form of new housing developments, ranging from 25 to >450 dwellings. The design of the IDNO network is typically based on a diversified load (ADMD) of 1.2-2kW per dwelling for a typical non-electrically heated dwelling.

To reduce the costs of installing a new IDNO network, the transformer size within a substation is based on the maximum capacity of the site (ADMD x no. of Dwellings), with each feeder designed using the smallest usable cable size for this load. This differs significantly from the methodology used by DNOs. DNOs must consider losses (wasted electricity) when designing their substations, often installing larger transformers to reduce losses whilst also facilitating future development of the network. Secondly, DNOs will install large cables from the substations and only install smaller size cables into cul-de-sacs, which, by their nature, will be lightly loaded with no possibility of additional buildings being constructed.

The problem of the IDNO design is that there is very little capacity within the local network for the addition of multiple installations of embedded generation, heat pumps or multiple EV chargers.

In conclusion, it may well be the case that older estates will be able to handled the increased penetration of new technologies far more effectively and cheaply than a new build estate, where significant reinforcement work may be required for a very small number of dwellings whose energy profiles change. In short, new build estates are not designed to allow renewable energy systems on houses.

Article by: Matt Cocker – Electrical Design Engineer – Decerna