Solar Panel Grants

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Published on 8th January 2024

Solar Panel Grants

What Solar Panel Funding is Available in the UK?

We're big on green energy in the UK, right? Especially when it comes to those shiny solar panels.

There's been a ton of schemes and grants to help us onboard.

Let's chat about the funding we have access to.

Government Grants and Schemes

grants and funding for solar panels in the UK

Current Schemes

  • Smart Export Guarantee (SEG): This brilliant scheme pays you for any leftover energy your solar panels make.
  • VAT Reduction: Homeowners enjoy a reduced VAT rate on solar installations from April 2022 until 2027.
  • Solar Together: A community purchase scheme offering discounted solar panel prices through collective buying.

Past Schemes

  • Feed-in Tariff (FiT): Paid residential producers of renewable electricity until its conclusion in April 2019.
  • Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI): Supported renewable heating systems but closed to new applications in March 2022.
  • Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund: Facilitates the installation of solar panels in social housing at competitive rates.
  • Green Homes Grant: The Green homes grant handed out nifty little vouchers for making your home a bit more eco-friendly, including throwing in some shiny solar panels.

Other Funding Options

  •  Crowdfunding Platforms: Have become a popular alternative for funding solar panel installations, allowing communities to collectively invest in renewable energy.

  • Green Loans: Financial products with favorable terms to finance the purchase and installation of solar panels.

ECO4 Scheme for grants and funding

1. The ECO4 Scheme

Ever heard of the ECO4 scheme? It's a nifty government scheme with two primary goals - curbing carbon emissions and giving fuel poverty a solid kick. They're focusing their efforts on the folks who need it the most, like low-income households, those struggling with fuel poverty, and vulnerable households.

The real cherry on top? Through ECO4, these households can get funding for all sorts of energy-saving goodies - proper insulation, swanky new boilers, and the star of our show, solar panel installations. Solar grants made simple, if you ask me!

How Does the ECO4 Scheme Work?

So, the ECO4 scheme... Its main aim is to help out those folks who could really use a bit of energy-saving tech but are a bit skint. No worries about shouldering the full cost, though! The ECO4 steps in with some sprightly grants and helps lighten the load. 

By offering a much-needed leg-up, ECO4 makes sure that being short of a bob or two doesn't put a full stop on getting your hands on sustainable technology.

Who Is Eligible for the ECO4 Scheme?

To be eligible for the ECO4 scheme, applicants must meet certain criteria. These include:

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Tax Credits (Child Tax Credits and Working Tax credits)
  • Universal Credit

In addition to these benefits, local authorities also have the power to refer residents in their area for an ECO grant, even if they don't meet the above criteria. This is called 'Flexible Eligibility' and helps ensure that assistance reaches those households that may otherwise miss out.

What Are the Benefits of the ECO4 Scheme?

The ECO4 scheme brings several advantages both for individual beneficiaries and for society as a whole:

  1. Energy Efficiency: By funding solar panel installations and other energy-saving measures, ECO4 helps reduce energy consumption and lower carbon emissions.
  2. Cost Savings: Through the installation of solar panels facilitated by the scheme, recipients can enjoy significant savings on their energy bills.
  3. Addressing Fuel Poverty: By focusing on low-income, fuel-poor households, the scheme helps alleviate issues related to fuel poverty.
  4. Promoting Renewable Energy: The scheme contributes to broader national and international objectives of increasing the adoption of renewable energy sources.

How Can You Apply for the ECO4 Scheme?

If you believe you meet the eligibility criteria for the ECO4 scheme and are interested in participating, here are the steps you can follow to apply:

  1. Check Your Eligibility: Before diving into the application process, it's a good idea to verify whether you qualify for the scheme or not. Several online tools provided by different services can help you with this initial assessment.
  2. Get a Green Deal Assessment: This assessment will be conducted by an accredited assessor who will evaluate your property and determine what energy-saving improvements can be made. They will also provide an estimate of how much money these changes could save you on your energy bills.
  3. Find an Installer: Once you have completed the assessment and know what upgrades are recommended for your home, the next step is to find a qualified installer who can carry out the necessary work. It's important to choose an installer who is certified by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) to ensure that they meet industry standards.
  4. Apply for Funding: The final step in the process is to submit an application for funding either through your energy supplier or another provider that participates in the ECO scheme. They will review your application and determine if you qualify for financial assistance.

With the ECO4 scheme, you can nab a piece of that sweet, renewable energy pie. The benefits? A cleaner planet and some extra dosh in your pocket too.

explaination of the smart export guarantee in the UK also known as SEG.

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)

Right, so there's this thing called the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), yeah? If you're a homeowner or a business with a few renewable energy gizmos (like solar panels) knocking about, this could be a good one for you. You can actually get paid for any extra energy you pop back into the grid.

What is the SEG and How Does it Work?

The SEG works on a simple idea: if your solar panels produce more electricity than you can use, why not share it with others? Instead of wasting the surplus energy, you can sell it back to the national grid. Under this scheme, electricity suppliers are required to offer a fair price for each unit of electricity you export.

How to Sign Up for the SEG

Here's how you can apply for the Smart Export Guarantee:

  1. Check if You're Eligible: Make sure your solar PV system is certified and has an export meter.
  2. Find an SEG Provider: Many energy companies offer SEG tariffs – compare their rates and terms.
  3. Apply with Your Chosen Supplier: Contact them directly and follow their application process.

Best Smart Export Guarantee Tariffs 2024

RankSupplier            SEG Tariff Name        SEG Rate (per kWh)Additional Information                                                                
1    Octopus Energy      Octopus Flux            24p                Highest rate, available for Octopus customers with smart meters.                      
2    E.On Next          Next Export Exclusive  16.5p              Exclusive rate for E.On Next customers.                                                
3    Octopus Energy      Outgoing Fixed          15p                Fixed rate for Octopus customers.                                                      
4    ScottishPower      SmartGen+              15p                For ScottishPower customers, requires a smart meter.                                  
5    ScottishPower      SmartGen Tariff        12p                Available for both customers and non-customers.                                        
6   So Energy          So Export Flex          5p                30 Days Rolling                                                                       
7   British Gas        Export & Earn Flex      6.4p              Flexible rate that can change with the market.                                        
EDF                Export Variable Value  5.6p              Variable rate for EDF customers.                                                      
9   Pozitive Energy    -                      5.5p              -                                                                                      
10  Octopus Energy      Outgoing Go            4.1p              Available for non-Octopus customers with smart meters.                                

Note: The rates are correct as of 08/01/24 and will be updated monthly. They are subject to change and may vary based on the supplier's terms and conditions. It's important to check the latest rates directly with the supplier.

Additional Information

  • SEG payments are not considered taxable earnings by HMRC, under certain conditions.
  • To qualify for the SEG, you must meet specific requirements, including having an MCS-certified installation and owning an export meter.

Who Can Join the Smart Export Guarantee?

To be eligible for this program, your installation must meet certain criteria:

  • It should be a certified low-carbon technology.
  • The capacity should be up to 5MW or up to 50kW for Micro-CHP.
  • An export meter is required to track how much electricity you send back.
explaination of the local authority flexible elibility schema also known as LA Flex

3. The Local Authority Flexible Eligibility (LA Flex) Program

The Local Authority Flexible Eligibility (LA Flex) initiative. Designed to help those feeling the chill of energy poverty and boost energy efficiency in the process. Plus, it gives a boost to solar panel projects, helping to reduce those pesky energy bills. What's the catch, you might wonder? Well, there isn't one really. This program gives local authorities the power to point out and support households.

How Does the LA Flex Program Work?

While the LA Flex program covers various interventions to lower energy costs, it also includes grants for solar panels. Here are some important details about the program:

  1. Scope: The LA Flex program is not solely focused on solar technology, but it does offer grants specifically for solar panel installations as part of its overall efforts to decrease energy expenses.
  2. Objective: The main goal of the program is to ensure that more households can benefit from reduced energy costs by having better access to renewable energy technologies.

Who Can Apply for the LA Flex Program?

The eligibility requirements for the LA Flex program are determined by each local authority. These requirements typically consider factors such as income levels, property types, and potential energy savings. Here are some common criteria used:

  • Income-based Criteria: Households may need to fall within a certain income range or receive specific benefits to qualify.
  • Property Assessment: Local authorities will assess whether a home is suitable for solar panel installation, taking into account factors like roof orientation and structural integrity.
  • Energy Savings Potential: Priority may be given to properties where installing solar panels would result in significant reductions in energy bills.

What You Need to Know About Solar Panel Funding through LA Flex

If you're interested in applying for solar panel funding through the LA Flex program, here are some important details to keep in mind:

  1. Funding Limits: There may be a maximum amount of grant money available per household to ensure that funds are distributed to more homes.
  2. Installation Standards: Solar panel installations must meet certain quality standards, which often require contractors to be MCS certified (Microgeneration Certification Scheme). Glow Green is an example of a network that fulfills this criterion.
  3. Additional Benefits: In some cases, the LA Flex funding can be combined with other incentives or schemes, giving homeowners more financial options for their solar panel projects.

How to Find Out More About LA Flex in Your Area

Each local authority provides specific information about their LA Flex program through official channels or affiliated programs. If you're interested in learning more about the program and its availability in your area, it's recommended to contact your local council. They can provide you with tailored information based on your circumstances and any region-specific initiatives related to the LA Flex program.

zero percent rate for energy saving tech including solar panels

4. Reduced VAT for Energy-Saving Products

The UK government - yes, the very same lot who usually love to tax the pants off of anything that moves - they've done something a bit surprising. They've gone and slashed the VAT rate on solar panels and other energy-saving tech.

Benefits of 0% VAT

  • Cost Savings: Homeowners can benefit significantly from the reduction in VAT from the standard rate down to 0%, which translates to lower upfront costs for installing solar panel systems.
  • Encouragement for Green Investments: This tax incentive is designed to make the investment in renewable energy sources more appealing, aligning with the broader goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions.

Eligibility

  • Homeowners and Residential Landlords: The reduced VAT rate is applicable for installations in residential accommodations.
  • Age and Social Criteria: In some cases, eligibility may be contingent on the age of the occupants or their receipt of certain benefits.
  • Energy-Saving Materials: Only specific energy-saving materials qualify for the reduced rate; these include solar panels, controls for central heating and hot water systems.

How to Apply for 0% VAT

Applying for the 0% VAT rate does not require a separate application process. Instead:

  • Installation Service: When using accredited installers like Glow Green, the reduced rate should be automatically applied to your invoice if you are eligible.
  • Self-Supply Installations: If purchasing materials for a DIY installation, inform the supplier about your eligibility so they can apply the correct VAT rate.
home energy scotland grant and loan schemes

Home Energy Scotland Grant and Loan Schemes

For homeowners situated in Scotland, the Home Energy Scotland grant and loan schemes serve as a significant source of funding for solar panel installations.

Launched by the Scottish government, these initiatives aim to support energy-saving measures.

Home Energy Scotland Renewable Loan Scheme

One such initiative is the Home Energy Scotland Renewable Loan Scheme. Offering interest-free loans of up to £10,000, it provides financial backing for renewable technologies, including solar PV panels and solar water heating systems.

Repayable over a maximum period of 12 years, this scheme aims to make sustainable energy solutions more affordable for homeowners.

Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS)

Another noteworthy scheme is the Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland (HEEPS). Funded by the Scottish government, HEEPS provides grants to homeowners and private sector landlords to improve energy efficiency in their properties. Solar PV panels fall under energy-efficient systems eligible for funding.

Applications for these schemes can be made through Home Energy Scotland's dedicated hotline or website. Prospective applicants should ensure they meet the eligibility criteria set out by each scheme before applying.

These initiatives reflect the Scottish government's commitment towards building a more sustainable future, making renewable energy solutions such as solar panels more accessible to homeowners across the country.

Welsh Government Warm Homes Nest Scheme

Welsh Government Warm Homes Nest Scheme

Designed to aid in the fight against fuel poverty, the Welsh Government Warm Homes Nest Scheme provides free energy-saving home improvements to eligible households across Wales.

 Solar panel installations are among the energy-efficient upgrades offered through this scheme.

Who is eligible for the Nest Scheme?

The Nest Scheme is not income-based, making it accessible to a wider audience than similar initiatives. Instead, its eligibility criteria focus on whether applicants:

  1. Live in a property with a poor energy-efficiency rating
  2. Have a high future risk of falling into fuel poverty

How does the scheme work?

The scheme's primary objective is reducing energy usage and costs. By installing solar panels, households can generate their own renewable electricity, thus lowering their reliance on grid energy and ultimately reducing their energy bills.

Benefits of the Nest Scheme

Many homeowners have benefited from the Nest Scheme since its launch in 2011. The initiative has been lauded for its effectiveness in helping residents achieve significant savings on energy costs.

To apply for the scheme, interested individuals need to contact the Nest team directly or fill out an online application form.

The Welsh Government Warm Homes Nest Scheme exemplifies how local authorities are taking steps to support renewable energy adoption, contributing to a greener UK while also aiding those at risk of fuel poverty.

other funding options for solar panels

Other Funding Options

Banks in the UK are waking up and smelling the coffee (finally!). They're now rewarding us who fancy going green with our homes, like putting up solar panels.

Barclays Greener Homes

Barclays supports eco-friendly home improvements with its Greener Home Reward scheme, specifically catering to UK residential mortgage customers looking to adopt solar technology. Eligible customers who install solar panel systems can receive a substantial cash incentive:

  • A £1,000 cashback is available for customers who have installed and fully paid for their solar panel systems.
  • Installations must be performed by a business registered with TrustMark, ensuring adherence to government-endorsed quality.
  • After installation, customers can claim the cash reward, effectively reducing the cost of their investment in renewable energy.

Lloyds Bank Eco Home Reward

Lloyds Bank is also contributing to the green movement with its Eco Home Reward program:

  • Customers with a Lloyds Bank mortgage or those taking out loans for home improvements could receive up to £500 cashback for installing solar panels.
  • The process involves an eligibility check and registration followed by installation from a supplier of your choice.
  • This offer helps offset some of the initial costs associated with going green.

Halifax Green Living Reward

Halifax offers a similar incentive through the Green Living Reward:

  • Existing Halifax mortgage holders or applicants financing home improvements can claim up to £500 cashback when they install solar panels.
  • Verification of eligibility and registration are prerequisites before proceeding with your chosen supplier for installation.
  • The cashback claim can be made post-installation, providing financial relief and encouragement towards sustainable energy use.

These initiatives not only promote sustainable practices but also provide homeowners with financial benefits that make transitioning to renewable energy sources like solar power more feasible.

solar panel schemes that have recently expired

Recently Expired: Home Upgrade Grant

The Home Upgrade Grant was another initiative designed to make solar energy more accessible to UK homeowners. It provided substantial grants, up to £10,000, aimed at improving the energy efficiency of households in certain local authorities.

Who was Eligible for the Home Upgrade Grant?

To have been eligible for the Home Upgrade Grant:

  1. Applicants must live in a home that is hard to heat or has poor energy efficiency.
  2. The household must be located within specific local authorities participating in the scheme.
  3. Household income must fall below a certain threshold.

The Benefits of the Home Upgrade Grant

The impact of this grant can be significant. A well-installed solar panel system could potentially cover the majority of a household's electricity needs, leading to drastically reduced energy bills and less reliance on grid electricity. This not only benefits individual homeowners but also contributes towards the UK's broader goal of increasing renewable energy consumption and reducing carbon emissions.


Recently Expired: Domestic RHI

The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) was a UK Government financial support scheme designed to encourage the uptake of renewable heat technologies among householders, communities, and businesses through financial incentives. Launched in April 2014, this initiative targeted an increase in the generation of heat from renewable sources.

Key Aspects of the Domestic RHI:

  • Eligible Technologies: Included solar thermal panels, biomass boilers, and heat pumps.
  • Payments: Homeowners received quarterly payments over seven years based on the amount of clean energy their system produced.
  • Objective: To reduce carbon emissions and help the UK meet its renewable energy targets.

Despite its success in boosting the adoption of renewable heating systems, the Domestic RHI scheme closed to new applicants on 31 March 2022. The scheme's closure marked a transition in government strategy towards more holistic measures encompassing broader energy-saving solutions for households.

Participants who joined prior to the deadline continue to benefit from the scheme as they receive the financial support agreed upon for the full seven-year period. The legacy of Domestic RHI lives on as it set a precedent for future policies aimed at decarbonizing domestic heating and supporting greener alternatives for homeowners across the UK.

As solar technology advances and becomes more cost-effective, new schemes and incentives arise, reflecting ongoing commitments to sustainable energy solutions. These initiatives often aim to build upon the groundwork laid by previous programs such as the Domestic RHI.


Recently Expired: Free Solar Panel Scheme

The Free Solar Panel Scheme, also known as 'rent-a-roof', was an innovative program in the UK allowing homeowners to benefit from solar panels without the upfront costs. Under this scheme, companies would install solar panels on a property at no immediate cost to the homeowner. In return, these companies would retain ownership of the solar panels and benefit from the Feed-in Tariff (FiT).

Features of the Free Solar Panel Scheme included:

  1. Zero Upfront Cost: Homeowners could have solar panels installed on their properties without having to pay for the equipment or installation.
  2. Savings on Energy Bills: Participants benefited from reduced electricity bills, as they could use the solar energy generated by the panels.
  3. Feed-in Tariff Earnings: The company providing the panels would collect the FiT payments as they were the system's owner.

Despite its popularity, this scheme had some limitations:

  1. Transfer of Benefits: Because the company owned the panels, homeowners did not receive FiT payments themselves.
  2. Property Sale Complications: Selling a property with such an arrangement sometimes presented challenges, as new owners needed to agree to take over the scheme's terms.

This scheme is no longer available due to changes in government policy and the end of the FiT in April 2019. However, its impact on solar adoption in the UK was significant, contributing to wider acceptance and understanding of solar energy benefits among homeowners.

As homeowners continue to explore solar energy options, newer incentives and funding mechanisms have come into play. These include schemes like ECO4 that offer support tailored towards specific groups within society and emphasize sustainability and long-term energy savings.


Recently Expired: Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund

The Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF) was a significant initiative that aimed to facilitate the installation of solar panels in social housing at competitive rates. This funding mechanism contributed significantly to the UK's transition towards renewable energy, specifically within the social housing sector.

Key Features of SHDF

  1. Competitive Rates for Solar Installation: The SHDF played an instrumental role in enabling affordable access to solar energy for social housing. It provided financial assistance for installing solar panels, making renewable energy more accessible and affordable.
  2. Promotion of Energy Efficiency: This fund was not just about installing solar panels; it also promoted energy efficiency. The goal was to reduce carbon emissions and lower energy bills for residents in social housing, contributing to long-term sustainability.
  3. Improvement of Living Standards: By bringing down energy costs and improving efficiency, the SHDF aimed to increase the comfort and living conditions in social housing.

While this fund has now expired, it served as a model for similar future initiatives and reinforced the government's commitment to sustainable energy practices. It is important to note that while the SHDF is no longer active, there are other schemes currently available that also aim to promote sustainable energy use and offer financial support for adopting renewable technologies, such as the Energy Company Obligation (ECO4) and Smart Export Guarantee (SEG).

Remember: While specific grants may expire, there are always new opportunities emerging to support renewable energy adoption.

The legacy of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund continues as homeowners and landlords alike seek out ways to make properties more sustainable and energy-efficient. Whether through community projects or individual efforts, the drive towards greener living remains strong.

grants and funding scheme frequently asked question and answers

Grants and Funding FAQ


Can I get a grant for solar panels?

Yes, various grants for solar panels are available in the UK. Current schemes include the Energy Company Obligation (ECO4) and Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). Each of these initiatives has specific criteria for eligibility.


Can you still get free solar panels?

The Free Solar Panel Scheme ended in 2019. However, other funding options such as community energy projects and low-interest loans have been known to help offset the upfront cost of solar panel installation.


Are there different solar panel grants across the UK?

Yes, solar panel initiatives vary across the UK. For instance, the Home Upgrade Grant was only available to households in certain local authorities. Additionally, some schemes like ECO4 require referral from a local authority or energy provider.


Why have solar panels grants closed?

Some past schemes have closed due to changes in government policy or completion of their designated timeframe. However, new initiatives often replace them, reflecting the government's ongoing commitment to renewable energy.


Are there new grants for solar panels?

Yes, the UK government regularly introduces new grants and incentives to encourage the use of renewable energy. For example, the VAT reduction on energy-saving materials will be effective from April 2022 until 2027.


Should I be looking at grants for solar panels?

If you meet the eligibility criteria, grants can significantly reduce installation costs. It is advisable to research all available options before making a decision.