Can I Get Free Solar Panels in the UK?
A few years ago, you had a whole host of different companies offering you free solar panels in the UK.
The government’s generous feed-in tariff made it a no-brainer for many people. But, with the recent changes to the feed-in tariff, has this all changed?
In short, yes. The government’s feed-in tariff (FIT) has been slashed and is now much less generous than it used to be. This means that the free solar panel deals have all but dried up.
This decision by the UK government then made it unprofitable for these companies to continue giving away free solar panels and they soon stopped doing so.
How Did These Companies Make Money?
The way these companies made money was by selling the electricity that your solar panels generated back to the grid.
The government’s feed-in tariff meant that they got paid a set amount for every unit of electricity that they sold.
The problem was that the feed-in tariff was cut so much that it no longer made financial sense for these companies to give away free solar panels.
So, they stopped doing so and now you’ll struggle to find any company willing to give you free solar panels in the UK.
What Happened to the People Who Got Free Solar Panels?
If you were one of the lucky few who managed to get free solar panels installed before the government slashed the feed-in tariff, then you’re probably still benefiting from it.
The good news is that the feed-in tariff is a fixed rate for 20 years, so you’ll continue to receive the same payments for the next 19 years at least.
The bad news is that, after 20 years, your payments will stop and you’ll have to start paying for the electricity that your solar panels generate.
This obviously isn’t ideal, but it’s still better than nothing and you should continue to enjoy reduced energy bills for the next 20 years.
What Type of Roof Was Ideal for Free Solar Panels?
These companies were super smart. They weren’t offering this deal to just any household. They were looking at the “right” roofs.
The perfect roof for free solar panels was a south-facing roof with no shading. This meant that the solar panels would get the maximum amount of sunlight and generate the most electricity possible.
These companies also wanted roofs that were in good condition and not in need of repair. This is because they didn’t want to have to fork out for any repairs before they could install the solar panels.
So, if you had a south-facing roof that was in good condition, then you were in luck! You were probably one of the lucky few who managed to get free solar panels installed.
If your home didn’t meet all of their criteria, some of these companies charged a one-off fee of £500 and/or a £5 monthly charge. But this was still a huge saving compared to the cost of installing solar panels yourself.
What About That Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)?
Unfortunately, the RHI is no longer running for new applicants.
The government has announced that the Clean Heat Grant now called the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) will replace the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme in 2022.
You can read all about the BUS scheme here.
If this sounds confusing, you’re right to think that. Unfortunately, the UK government has been flip-flopping from one scheme to the other, making it very confusing for homeowners.
But, the bottom line is that there are currently no schemes in place that will give you free solar panels or any other type of renewable energy.
What About This The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)?
The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) has taken the place of the Feed-in Tariff, which was abandoned by the government.
The SEG, however, will ensure that energy suppliers reimburse homeowners for any solar-generated electricity they do not consume.
The SEG, on the other hand, allows electricity suppliers to set their own pricing.
In a competitive market, this should result in firms competing for your business by offering higher repayment rates.
Ideally, you’ll be relaxing in your solar-powered home while suppliers fight over your business.
Furthermore, the SEG is considerably more equitable than the Feed-in Tariff.
The government used to pay homeowners for just 50% of their unused solar-generated electricity, even if they were exporting as much as 80% of their power back to the grid.
In contrast, with the SEG in place, energy suppliers are required to pay homeowners for whatever they send back – and it’s much easier if your house is equipped with a smart meter.
0% VAT for Solar Panels
From April 2022 to 2027, households will be exempt from VAT on energy-saving materials like solar panels.
The new rate takes effect for these environmentally beneficial home improvements:
- Air source heat pumps
- Controls for central heating and hot water systems
- Draught stripping
- Ground source heat pumps
- Micro combined heat and power units
- Solar panels
- Wood-fuelled boilers
So, even though you can’t get free solar panels anymore, you can still save a lot of money by installing them during this VAT-free period.
A lot of farmers are still signing up for commercial solar farms. This is where a company will lease a field from a farmer and then install solar panels on it.
The farmer gets paid a rental fee for the use of their land and they also get to keep any crop that they grow underneath the solar panels.
These deals are still being done, but they’re not available to regular homeowners.
The Verdict – Are There Any Free Solar Panel Deals Left in the UK?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. With the government’s feed-in tariff now being so low, there are no companies left who are willing to give away free solar panels.
The Bottom Line
So, there you have it. There are no longer any free solar panel deals in the UK. If you want solar panels, then you’ll have to pay for them yourself.
This doesn’t mean that solar panels are no longer a good investment though.
They’re still a great way to save money on your energy bills and they’re also good for the environment.
If you’re thinking of getting solar panels, then we recommend that you do your research and get quotes from multiple companies before making a decision.
This is the best way to ensure that you get the best deal possible and that you end up with a system that meets your needs.