There’s no time to waste if you’re looking to install solar PV panels before the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme comes to an end on March 31st.
With solar PV panels needing to be installed before the application process can begin and a winter that could delay the installation, getting the process started soon could be the difference between receiving government payments for 20 years and missing out.
Aiming to meet the deadline so that you can receive those FiT payments doesn’t have to be a stressful experience though, so we’ve highlighted everything you’ll need to keep in mind for a smooth transition onto the Feed-in Tariff.
Don’t Wait Until March
The scheme is closed to new applications at the end of March 2019 but that doesn’t mean you have the gift of time. Realistically, the deadline to get the whole application process started is much sooner as you can’t apply for the FiT scheme until your panels are installed.
How Long Could Installation Take?
Getting the installation organised could take some time as you might have to work around their potentially busy schedule but once the installation is booked and underway, it shouldn’t take more than 1-3 days.
This might not seem like a long time, and that’s because it isn’t, especially when you consider that you’ll be generating your own electricity immediately after the installation, but during the winter you’ve always got to consider the weather.
Standing between now and the March 2019 FiT deadline is a winter that could bring bad weather, possibly preventing installers from getting to your home, let alone carrying out the work (remember 2018’s Beast from the East?). So acting sooner rather than later could save you from any stress in the run up to the deadline.
Remember that for your application to the Feed-in Tariff to be eligible the installer carrying out the work must be MCS certified. Complete a simple online form with Solar Guide and you’ll get free quotes from up to 3 MCS installers in your local area.
Feed-in Tariff Application Process
Once your solar PV panels have been installed, it’s not a case of waiting for your FiT payments to start rolling in, you’ll need to go through an application process, which is why you shouldn’t put off starting the process:
- Installation: The installation needs to be carried out by an MCS certified installer using equipment certified by the MCS.
- MCS Certificate: Once installed, you’ll need to get an MCS certificate from your installer. They will have to register your installation on the MCS database within 10 working days of the installation.
- Applying to Energy Supplier: Each energy supplier, otherwise known as Fit Licensees, have a FiT application form that you will have to fill in and you must include your MCS certificate and proof of ownership.
After receiving all the information required, your energy supplier will run their checks and let you know if your solar PV system is eligible. If successful, the details will be added onto the Central FiT Register (CFR).
- Agree to Terms: Following a successful application, your energy supplier will send you the terms and conditions, which you’ll need to sign before you can start receiving 20 years of FiT payments.
As you can see, there’s a fair amount that needs to happen before you can start receiving those coveted FiT payments. Getting it all done soon could see you safely accepted onto the scheme and start seeing a return on your investment in solar energy much sooner than if you miss the deadline in March 2019.
Energy Supplier Timescale
Depending on the energy supplier you’re with, the time it takes for them to get back to your about your application will vary. Not all energy suppliers, disclose the amount of time it will take so we’ve picked out some of the energy suppliers that give a timeframe in the table below. If your supplier isn’t there, we recommend acting as if it could take up to 28 days (the longest possible time we found).
|Energy Supplier||Length of Time|
|British Gas||28 days|
|First Utility||Day they receive your application – you will be contacted for a meter reading.|
|SSE||2 working days|
|Utilita||Required to wait 14 working days from receiving the application before it can be processed.|
What is the Feed-in Tariff?
The Feed-in Tariff is a government scheme that pays homeowners and businesses that are generating their own electricity with solar PV panels.
Once accepted onto the scheme, you’ll receive payments for the electricity you generate and use yourself (Generation Tariff) and further payments for every kilowatt-hour exported to the grid (Export Tariff).
Generation Tariff: Payments for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) of energy generated by your solar PV panels
Export Tariff: Any energy generated by your system that you don’t use is automatically sent to the National Grid. This is measured using an export meter but if you don’t have one then the supplier will estimate that you’re exporting 50%.
Once accepted onto the scheme, you could receive the payments for as long as 20 years, which could soon see you making a return on your initial investment in solar.
Why is the Feed-in Tariff Closing?
On 19th July 2018, it was announced by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) that the FiT would be ending sooner than planned.
When the FiT was first introduced in 2010, the government estimated that there would be 750,000 solar PV installations eligible for the scheme by 2020. However, with the cost of installing solar panels dropping dramatically and 730,000 installations taking place by 2015, the FiT proved much more effective than first thought.
Since then the scheme has been hit by funding cuts of around 65%; all of which has resulted in it ending sooner than first planned.
Already Receiving FiT Payments
If you’re already benefiting from government payments through the Feed-in Tariff then you don’t need to worry about the scheme closing. The deadline is only for new applications, so you’ll still receive your payments.