Solar Panel Grants

There are many ways to save money on solar panels or even get free solar panels—but are you eligible? And how much can you potentially save? NimbleFins experts explain the eligibility rules and potential savings for solar panel grants and discounts in Great Britain, as well as some other ways for everyone to save on solar panels!

Solar Panel Grants

Solar panel grants are government schemes to help British households save money on solar PV panel installations. The largest grants (e.g. grants worth thousands of £ that can potentially pay the entire solar panel system cost, which typically starts from around £6,000) are only available to vulnerable households, such as those with low incomes, living in homes that currently demonstrate poor energy efficiency (i.e. a low EPC rating).

But there are some solar grants that nearly any household with solar panels can benefit from, such as SEG tariffs (earning money by selling extra solar-generated power back to the National Grid) and paying 0% VAT on solar PV system installations (representing a savings of 5% of the total cost).

Here is a breakdown of the current solar power grants available in Great Britain, including information on eligibility, grant expiry, and the potential savings.

Solar Power GrantsEligibilityGeographic CoverExpiresPotential Benefit
ECO4Vulnerable households as determined by local authoritiesEngland, Scotland, and WalesMarch 2026Chance of free or discounted solar panel systems
SEG TariffsRequires Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certificate, export meter and max capacity of 5MWEngland, Scotland, and WalesOngoingVariable ~3-4p/kWh (e.g. £40/year on 1,000 kWh of exported electricity)
VAT 0%Applies to equipment purchase and installation of solar panels, home batteries, etc.England, Scotland, and WalesMarch 2027Save 5% on solar panel systems (equipment and installation), e.g. £500 on a £10,000 system
Solar TogetherIf you live in a council with an active schemeVariable by councilVariable by councilVariable (up to 10–25% off has been achieved)
Home Upgrade Scheme (HUG2)Household income e.g. < £31k, off the gas grid, EPC between D and G, and live in eligible local authorityVariable by council, EnglandMarch 2025£7,400 average government contribution
Home Energy Scotland Grant and Loan SchemesAll households in Scotland installing/completing an entire energy storage system with heat pump/biomass boiler, solar PV and energy storage/batteryScotlandOngoing£6,000 (£1,250 grant plus £4,750 optional loan) for solar PV panels
Welsh Government Warm Homes Nest SchemeVulnerable customers with no heating or hot waterWalesMarch 2024 (new scheme beginning April 2024)Change of free solar panels

To find out if you may be eligible for one of the larger grants, you can use a tool like this one provided by E.on.

Below, we detail more information on each of these solar grants.

Energy Company Obligation 4 (ECO4)

ECO4 is a government energy-efficiency scheme in Great Britain designed to improve the least energy efficient homes and households in fuel poverty.

You might be eligible for the ECO4 scheme if you live in private housing and get one or more of the following benefits:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit
  • Pension Guarantee Credit
  • Pension Savings Credit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Child Benefit
  • Housing Benefit

To qualify, there are also requirements regarding the current energy efficiency of your home—your house must be D or worse if you own it and E or worse if you rent from a private landlord (and you must have the property owner’s permission to do the work).

How much can you get from ECO4 for solar, if you're eligible? It depends but there's a chance you can get a free or discounted solar panel system.

Learn how to apply on the government site here.

Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) enables homes or businesses with renewable energy (primarily solar PV panels) to earn money from an energy company for exporting excess renewable electricity back to the grid. Rates are frequently in the 3-4p/kWh range, but can be higher or lower. We've noticed that Octopus seems to be big in this space and often has the most interesting SEG Tariffs.

Our top tip: you can use one energy company for your energy supply and a different company for your SEG tariff! That way, you can look for the cheapest incoming energy supply tariff (for energy you use from the grid) and the highest outgoing SEG tariff (for energy you supply back to the grid).

Anyone with a solar PV system is eligible for SEG, provided they have a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) certificate, an export meter and max capacity of 5MW (FYI 5MW = 5,000kW, which is ~1,000X the typical home solar installation! So you should be safe...).

But it is still a bit of a hassle to get SEG ready.

To get a SEG tariff, you'll need to apply with your energy company. They'll apply to the DNO for an export MPAN (a new MPAN must be requested from the Distribution Network Operator when you export for the first time). It can then take up to 4 weeks for the DNO to create your MPAN. Once that's ready, your energy company will enroll you and get your smart meter connected for export.

MCS certificate

An MCS certificate is proof that your solar PV installation was designed, installed & commissioned using only MCS-certified products by an MCS-certified installer. An MCS certificate is NOT a legal requirement for system installation, so your system may not have one.

Not sure if you have an MCS certificate? You can check whether an MCS Certificate exists by calling the MCS Helpdesk at 0333 103 8130 or by emailing hello at mcscertified dot com. If you never received a certificate or need a copy of it, contact your original MCS certified installer.

Export meter

An export meter records how much energy you export to the grid—in the case of homes with a solar PV system, you can export solar-generated energy that you neither used in your home or business immediately nor stored in a solar battery. This type of meter gives precise measurements regarding how much electricity you export—these measurements are then used to calculate how much money your energy company will pay you for you SEG tariff.

Note: all smart meters are export meters, so if you have a smart meter already you're set in that regard.

If you want to have an export meter fitted, contact your energy supplier and request a smart meter. It may take a few weeks to arrange.

No VAT incentive

Before 31 March 2027, there's no VAT on solar panels and batteries. The government estimates this will save households £1,000 on installation.

However, we think the savings will be a bit lower, as this incentive means you don't pay a 5% VAT rate. For example, 5% on a £10,000 system would be £500.

No VAT applies to entire solar PV panel installations, and also to solar components or upgrades (like adding a battery at a later date).

Solar Together

Solar Together is a group-buying scheme where participants can get discounted prices for buying in bulk. The scheme is organised in cooperation with local councils, and all residents living in one of the participating council areas can register for the Solar Together group-buying scheme.

You must own your own house or have permission from the landlord to install a solar PV system. Small and medium-sized businesses can participate as well.

Participants can get an entire solar PV system, battery storage and/or an EV home charging point.

We've seen reports that savings of up to 25% were achieved in the past, but there is no guarantee regarding the amount of savings that will be achieved by participating in this scheme.

As of March 2024, the following councils had active schemes with Solar Together:

  • Basildon
  • Braintree
  • Brentwood
  • Castle Point
  • Chelmsford
  • Colchester
  • Epping Forest
  • Harlow
  • Maldon
  • Rochford
  • Tendring
  • Uttlesford

Home Upgrade Scheme (HUG2)

The Home Upgrade Scheme (HUG) is a government initiative providing up to £700 million in funding to successful local authorities between 2023 and 2025. This funding is used to improve homes in England with energy-efficient upgrades and low-carbon heating—like solar PV systems.

Homes may be eligible to receive funding if they:

  • Are low income (£31,000 as base case)
  • Are off the gas grid
  • Have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) between D - G
  • Are located in one of the local authority areas listed in the table below

According to government data, in 2023 the average HUG2 contribution for eligible solar PV installations was £7,400! So huge savings to be had here, if you're eligible.

If you think you meet the eligibility criteria, contact your local authority for the next steps.

HUG2 Funding by CouncilAmount Available
Basildon Council£1,573,200
Blackpool Council£41,400,000
Bristol City Council£11,393,650
Broadland District Council£3,933,000
Calderdale Council£4,140,000
Cambridge City Council£11,509,200
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority£82,313,888
Cheshire East Council£6,210,000
City of York Council£1,242,000
Cornwall Council and Council of the Isles of Scilly£20,700,000
Darlington Borough Council£6,210,000
Dartford Borough Council£2,070,000
Devon County Council£13,339,272
Dorset Council£4,343,000
Durham County Council£5,185,000
Eden District Council£12,420,000
Greater London Authority£12,006,000
Great Yarmouth Borough Council£6,561,900
Leeds City Council£15,525,000
Leicester City Council£3,291,300
Lewes District Council£6,230,700
Liverpool City Region Combined Authority£10,350,000
Manchester City Council£10,400,000
Midlands Net Zero Hub£138,536,810
Newcastle City Council£4,140,000
North Tyneside Council£621,000
Northumberland County Council£12,420,000
North Yorkshire County Council£14,545,420
Oxfordshire County Council£6,417,000
Plymouth City Council£3,376,610
Portsmouth City Council£41,400,000
Rochdale Borough Council£3,105,000
Sedgemoor District Council£8,289,000
Sevenoaks District Council£1,249,600
Sheffield City Council£4,140,000
Shropshire County Council£11,073,500
Stroud District Council£6,240,000
Suffolk County Council£8,662,000
Surrey County Council£12,470,000
Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council£621,000
Wakefield Council£1,552,500
Walsall Council£3,135,000
Wealden District Council£1,873,710
West Devon Borough Council£4,140,000
Wiltshire Council£3,622,500

Home Energy Scotland Grant and Loan Schemes

Home Energy Scotland grants provide up to £6,000 (a £1,250 grant that you don't have to repay plus a £4,750 optional loan) for solar PV panels.

Also, you can get funding for solar water heating systems up to £5,000 (loan only, no grant available), hybrid solar PV/ water heating systems up to £5,000 (loan only, no grant available) and energy storage systems (heat or electric batteries) up to £6,000 (£1,250 grant plus £4,750 optional loan).

Who is eligible? Households in Scotland.

Welsh Government Warm Homes Nest Scheme

The Welsh Government Warm Homes Nest scheme ends in March 2024, with a new scheme replacing it in April 2024. Since the current scheme is ending now, they are not taking new applications (except for eligible vulnerable customers with no heating or hot water).

Free Solar Panels

In most cases, to get free solar panels you'll need to be considered financially vulnerable by the government and have a home with a poor efficiency rating, as determined by your home's Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

There are currently two government schemes that might provide free solar panels to households meeting those criteria:

  • ECO4: Your house must have an EPC of D or worse if you own it and E or worse if you rent; plus you must be on certain benefits.
  • HUG2: You must have low income (under £31k for the household, as a base case), be off the gas grid, have an EPC between D - G, and be located in one of the participating local authority areas.

Solar Panel Discounts and Loans

In addition to grants, there are other ways to save money on the upfront cost of solar panels, from promotional sales offering a % off your total price, to a fixed cash amount off, to low-cost loans. Here are some recent savings we were offered by various solar panel installers when we requested solar panel quotes:

  • Egg: 15% off recently (e.g. December 2023 - February 2024)
  • Effective Home: £500 off offered ~2 weeks after initial quote
  • E.on: With 2 years interest-free credit, 0% APR
  • Scottish Power: Interest free payments over 3 years or spread the cost up to 10 years

Note, this is not meant to be a complete list of discounts and loans, and the figures above are all subject to change. We have listed them to give you an idea of what you might be able to ask for from an installer to help lower the cost of solar panels to you. With many installers in the marketplace, you do have some power to negotiate!

We think you'll find more solar deals in the winter months, when volumes are lower. During summer when the sun is blazing and lots of homeowners think solar panels for the home are a great idea, installers will not feel the need to offer as many discounts to drive sales.

Regarding funding for solar panels, it may be possible to get financing. You might be able to get a high street bank loan for ~6.5% APR, or some of the large installers are starting to offer financing in the range of 7-9% APR. And a few offer interest-free credit for a few years (as mentioned in the list above).

Getting financing is definitely NOT a discount, because it means you pay more in the end (by paying back the loan amount + interest payments), but some people may find it works well for them to get a loan for their solar system. There's no debating that solar PV installations require a large upfront investment—and those who aren't comfortable handing over the cash all at once might find that financing their panels is better for them, because it spreads the cost out over years. This is a highly personal decision.

After all this, if you're wondering if solar panels are a good investment, please read our analysis 'Are solar panels are worth it?'