Export tariffs are soon to be a thing of the past.
For almost a whole decade, energy producers have been banking a bonus payment for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) of surplus clean electricity their system exports to the grid. What that means is you’re essentially selling that surplus electricity to your energy supply company, who in turn recycle it and sell it on to other customers.
The scheme is applicable to small-scale renewable and low-carbon electricity generators, that is to say, mainly individuals and businesses with solar panels. It’s also available for various other less popular alternative energy producers, including wind power.
The government payments incentivize individuals to be energy efficient, as they can bank money for each kWh they don’t need to use themselves. The amount you get is linked to the retail price index but as a rough guide, the original rate was 3p/kWh, increasing to 4.5p/kWh for new solar panel systems installed on or after 1 August 2012. In March 2016 the rate was sitting at 4.85p/kWh.
But come March 2019, the UK government is planning to close this option. And as of yet, it’s still not clear what the alternative to the current scheme is going to be once the government has carried out its consultation. One thing is for sure though: it’s unlikely to be as good a deal as you’re currently receiving. If we look at our cousins in Australia as a recent example, their original export tariff in Queensland stood somewhere around 44 cents/kWh, and has now plummeted to a tenth of that.
In the UK, some investors are now avoiding solar energy production altogether and choosing to take their money elsewhere.
But for those who already have solar panels installed, solar battery storage is now an incredibly attractive proposition moving forward.
If you are already producing solar energy, instead of getting paid by the government to pump your excess electricity back into the grid, solar battery storage means storing the energy yourself for use on a rainy day. Becoming totally energy self-sufficient means becoming immune to the whims and wherefores of governmental policy.
In a time of great political uncertainty with Brexit on the horizon and the government yet to unveil their alternative to export tariff payments, banking your own electricity is banking on the safe option. Furthermore, what’s great about this is that using your own energy is by far the most efficient thing you can do with it. If you can use it while it’s actually being produced, then even better.
But what do you do with excess created in the hot summer months? Easy: you lock it away in solar battery storage for use later down the line. There is a range of options in terms of battery costs and capacity, but whichever one you chose is just one option among a string of right answers. Because think of it like this: imagine you could generate your own WiFi through your solar panels, and for the rest of your life you’d be able to access the internet for no increased charge.
Wouldn’t you like to do that? After all, we all know that Broadband companies will invariably increase rates. Maybe there will be some government scheme necessitating them all to fork out extra security measures. Maybe it’ll just be plain old inflation.
So if you can get hold of a reasonably priced solar battery before we say goodbye to the export tariff, you’ll be saying hello to funding your own cups of tea for the exact same price they’re costing you now, for as long as those panels up on the roof are still working.
Now doesn’t that sound like a bright idea?