Energy tariffs that pay you for generating electricity will stay in place until 2013 unless there's unexpectedly high take-up, George Osborne announced in yesterday's spending review.

The feed-in tariff scheme pays tax-free cash for energy generated from clean technology such as solar panels (see the Free Solar Panels guide) and wind turbines, and is guaranteed for 25 years.

The Chancellor said the scheduled review in 2012 would decide new feed-in rates for 2013, though the Government could change payments earlier if there's "higher than expected deployment".

Even after the review, anyone who installed the technology after 15 July 2009 and before the changes should get current rates for 25 years.

A government spokesperson says: "Any changes will be directed at new entrants joining the scheme. We don't have any intention of changing tariffs for people who had already installed the systems before the review."

The Energy Saving Trust (EST) estimates feed-in users on a typical solar panel system are paid £800/year, though panels can cost £12,000 to install.

And because you don't need to buy as much electricity from an energy firm, users also typically save £100 a year on their bill.

Over 25 years, taking inflation into account, the EST says households could be £12,000 in profit with the combined savings.

Martin Lewis, MoneySavingExpert.com creator, says: "For those with spare cash, solar panels and similar green technology are an interesting investment, though not without risks.

"It's less the actual saving on your bill and far more about the money you are paid for generating electricity.

"Bizarrely, you get paid far more per unit for generating electricity than it would cost to buy electricity from your provider.

"Of course, the potential £12,000 saving over 25 years doesn't take into account that the panels could get damaged, you could earn more interest on the £12,000 elsewhere and, even though the Government says the tariff is fixed for now, it could change its mind."

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