7th May 2020
Panel Power: serving your energy needs, sunny side up
Eloise Moench, Octopus Energy for Business
What is Panel Power?
Panel Power is a collective import and export tariff, tailor-made to support businesses with solar panels, as well as solar installers and developers. It works by complimenting the generation and consumption of solar energy; this means that we actually pay businesses for the excess power they generate and send back to the grid.
How does it work?
If your business has solar panels installed, you’ll always use your own solar electricity first before drawing any power (or ‘importing’ it) from the grid. The energy generated by your solar system will be prioritised to run your coffee machine in the morning and charge your computers throughout the day.
When you’re using more power than your solar generation can provide… (probably when it’s cloudy, or late in the evening) our import tariff will supplement your energy needs, supplying you with grid energy matched with 100% renewable sources.
When your solar panels are generating more power than you can use… (say, when the sun is shining strong or your operations are minimal) our export tariff will get to work and you’ll be paid 4p per KWh for all the energy you pump back into the grid.
What makes panel power unique?
Panel Power is bespoke, specifically designed for businesses that are generating their own electricity. It therefore differs from some of the other tariffs and schemes you might have heard about, let’s be clear about what they all mean:
What was the FiT (Feed-in Tariffs) scheme
The FiT scheme was a government programme that closed to new entrants from 31st March 2019. It was designed to promote the uptake of renewable generation, like solar panels. Those signed up to the FiT scheme would receive quarterly payments from the government for the electricity their installation had generated and exported back to the grid.
What is the SEG (Smart Export Guarantee) scheme
To replace the FiT scheme, the government launched the SEG scheme, which instructed that all major energy suppliers must offer a domestic export tariff as of 1st January 2020. This took the onus off the government and put it onto suppliers to pay people for the energy they exported from their renewable energy installation back to the National Grid.
What is the outgoingOctopus tariff?
At Octopus we didn’t think it was good enough for there to be a nine month gap between the FiT scheme ending and the SEG scheme beginning. That’s why we immediately launched outgoingOctopus, the UK’s first smart export tariff, on April 1st 2019, paying domestic customers for the green energy they exported from their solar installations at home. People with on Outgoing Octopus could therefore get paid for their surplus electricity months ahead of the mandated SEG programme.
How does Panel Power stand out?
In 2020 we launched Panel Power. It differs from outgoingOctopus as it is designed specifically for businesses that generate their own electricity, rather than domestic customers. Thanks to Panel Power, businesses are not only able to export their surplus energy back onto the grid, but are being supplied by 100% renewable energy when their solar panels aren’t generating enough to cover all of their electricity needs.
What’s the sign up process like?
The sign up process for Panel Power engages with many different energy industry systems, so we thought it would be best to explain what goes on behind the scenes, step-by-step.
After you’ve been in touch and we’ve assessed the applicability of your solar system, we will forward you an online form where we will request both your MCS Certificate and your DNO Notification form and response. This allows us to confirm that your solar generation has been connected correctly, and that you’ve received confirmation from the local grid operator!
We use this information to:
- Check for your Octopus Account.
Panel Power requires you to have both import and export supplied by Octopus, so the first step in the sign up process is double checking you have an active, on-supply business electricity account with us. If not, it’s super simple to sign up online. Feel free to click here for a quote.
- Check the FiT register.
It’s not possible to receive both FiT export payments and measured export, so we always check the national FiT register to see what you’ve already got. This is a manual step where we look at your account and search for your meter identity on Ofgem’s FiT register. If this shows the property is already on a FiT then we work with you on the options such as ceasing the export part of FiT; this requires us to update the register manually.
- Check we have the right documentation.
Aligned with the new Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) we need a copy of the MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) certificate, the DNO (Distribution Network Operator) Notification form and the DNOs response.
- Create a new Export Meter Point Administration Number (often called an MPAN).
Using the central industry database, we request a new extra identity for your existing meter called an Export MPAN. Responses usually take a couple of days, but depending on demand, this can sometimes be more than a week. If the steps above have been followed then there shouldn't be an issue (on occasion MPANs may receive rejections but we can work with you to figure out why).
- Add your Export MPAN to your account.
Once we add your Export MPAN to your account, fixing it to the relevant tariff, we will begin receiving data of your solar export generation which will be used when billing!
What about a smart meter?
If you have a first generation SMETS1 or current SMETS2 smart meter or an Automated Meter Reading (AMR) device then we will be able to get all the data needed to bill you correctly as part of the Panel Power offering.
The benefits for you
So, what’s in for you? Firstly, if you are a business getting paid for the energy you use (and at a competitive rate of 4p per KWh), this hugely improves your return on investment of your solar panels. For comparison, other SEG tariffs are currently offered at 3p per kWh.
Also, having both an import and an export tariff in the same place from the same supplier will make your life that little bit easier. Having one touchpoint for your energy supply, and having both your incoming and outgoings on one bill, means you can clearly see your consumption and just how cost effective your solar panels are.
Are you a Solar Installer?
Then partner with us to provide a more inclusive solution that you can take to your customers. You’ll be able to offer potential business customers more than just solar panels, but a complete energy deal.
Supporting the future of energy
In 2016, Octopus Energy was created with a mission to disrupt the old-school energy market. What better way to achieve this goal than empowering businesses to become energy producers in their own right?
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