Solar panel owners paid just a fraction of what their power is worth

Josh Jackman, a researcher at The Eco Experts, said the below-market rates offered were “an insult to people who are sending green electricity to the grid in good faith”.

Mr Childs said the price paid should be explicitly linked to the wholesale price of electricity.

Only two of Britain’s biggest energy suppliers — Octopus and EDF — have said they plan to increase the amount paid to generators in light of electricity price rises.

Homeowners can take hundreds of pounds off their energy bills by getting solar panels, which typically save a three-bedroom home more than £500 a year.

Most of those savings come from the owner generating more of their own power, requiring less to be bought from the grid.

However, they can also earn additional cash by selling spare power to the national grid.

A government-run “feed in tariff” previously guaranteed a minimum payment for this solar power but it was closed to new entrants in 2019 and replaced with the “smart export guarantee” (SEG) scheme.

Suppliers can offer either fixed or variable SEG tariffs, but the only requirement on fees is that they are above zero.

This means that even though the wholesale price of electricity has rocketed to around 20 pence per kilowatt hour this year, there is no obligations on suppliers to pay solar panel owners that amount.

Instead, the average fixed export tariff paid by suppliers was just 3.9 pence per kilowatt hour, according to research by The Eco Experts.

The owner of a typical three bedroom house with solar panels could export power worth £420 if it was sold at market rates but only receive about £80 under tariffs by suppliers ScottishPower and offered E.On.

The figure dropped to £52 with SSE, £48 with British Gas and just £22 with EDF.

The highest-paying fixed tariffs were offered by Octopus, at £112 per year, and Tesla, at £164.

Chris Hewett, chief executive of industry body Solar Energy UK, said that ensuring solar panel owners were paid fair rates was essential to boosting uptake of green energy.

Surging energy bills have fueled a rush to install solar panels this year but only around 4pc of households have them in total.

Mr Hewett said: “Export tariffs should better reflect the wholesale price of electricity and if that is not happening, then we need a review of the SEG mechanism.”

He called on the Government to consider the issue when it looks at the overall makeup of the wholesale electricity market in a forthcoming review.

“We are committed to ensuring households receive a fair price for any renewable energy produced,” the spokesperson added.

The Government said on Thursday night that it had “not been considered appropriate” to set a floor price for the SEG when it was originally designed.

However, a spokesman for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said Ofgem was due to submit a report on the current system this autumn. “We are committed to ensuring households receive a fair price for any renewable energy produced,” the spokesperson added.

An EDF spokesman said: “We are currently in the process of reviewing our SEG price available for EDF import customers.”


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