On 1 January 2020, the UK's Smart Export Guarantee will make energy suppliers with over 150,000 customers (more than 90% of the retail market) legally obliged to put export tariffs on their excess energy. The guarantee also means that anyone with installed small-scale renewable energy generation of up to 5MW will be paid for every unit they sell back to the grid. There were previously Feed-in Tariffs in place for 850,000 projects across the UK, but the new scheme will be a significant improvement in both amount of applicable users and financial returns.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) stated that, in the UK, the cost of residential solar has dropped 50% since 2011. The new tariffs can not only offer an alternative income stream for its users, but will drive down prices for everyone as cheap power is generated by communities and made available more widely. The potential for residential energy is largely dependant on the development of battery technology and integrated grid systems; if scaled together, these could dramatically disrupt the dynamics of our current energy paradaigm. Policy is one of the most powerful tools in driving adaption, and encouraging small-scale generation is crucial for creating an energy future that’s sustainable, subsidy-free and local.