The increasing energy prices and poor planning in energy sector have put the public in real pressure. During the previous ruling regime, excessive power generation plants have been started that is almost 1.5 times of peak season demand and 2.5 times of off-peak demand of electricity. As these new plants are getting complete and coming in the commercial operation, the government will have to pay them capacity payment irrespective of the utilization. That is pushing extra pressure on the public in shape of increase in electricity prices. This electricity price hike will continue for at least next ten years till the debt payment of new plants.
It’s a great cause of concern that in Pakistan with presence of cheaper sources of energy, we were using expensive energy options. It is an appreciable step of the present ruling regime that the government is focused only on renewable sources for electricity and also providing loans at only 6% per annum for renewable energy generation facilities.
Pakistan is full of potential of alternate renewable energy resources, i.e. solar, wind, hydel etc. From the available options of the renewable energy; the installation of the solar energy is the most suitable option for the domestic customers. The solar panels can be installed on the roofs of the houses/offices/buildings. According to the studies, Pakistan has 2.9 Million Mega Watt of Solar Energy potential. But we are using only 1000 MW of this huge potential.
Here we will briefly discuss the process of solar net metering approvals and its advantages.
What is Net Metering?
It is a mechanism in which customer’s solar system is synchronized with the electricity distribution system. If consumption of electricity is less than additional electricity is exported to the distribution system and when consumption is more that generation of the solar system than electricity is imported from the distribution system.
At the end of the month, both export and import of electricity will be calculated. The bill will be prepared on the basis of net electricity import by the customer. There will be no payment if excess electricity is supplied to the system by the customer, this excess electricity can be consumed during coming months.
For the Net Metering customers, the existing electricity meter are replaced with a bi-directional meter that can record both import and export of electricity. Presently net metering approval is available from 5kW to 1 MW connection.
Process of Approval
The Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) is leading the initiative of promoting the renewable technologies and net metering system. The process of installing a solar system at home or industry with net metering is very simple after the latest regulations of the AEDB. It is very easy for the customer and also safe for the electrical distribution system.
One thing that is very good is only AEDB approved installers can install the solar systems that can go for net metering. So if customers get the system from an AEDB approved installer then there is a rare chance of poor quality system. AEDB has approved companies in three categories that, i.e. Category-V3: Off-Grid systems, Category-V2: On-Grid up to 250 kW, and Category-V1: On-Grid for 250 kW to 1 MW system. The customer can verify the company from the AEDB website. By awarding contract to an AEDB approved installer, then it will be a one window procedure. The approved companies are taking all responsibility of installing a solar system, all regulatory approvals from DISCOs and NEPRA, and installation of bi-directional meters.
The domestic/commercial/industrial customers can install solar systems on their buildings and save a lot of money. The best option for the solar system usage is the Net Metering System.
The 5 Marla house can install the solar system of capacity 5~7 kW. Presently solar system cost is around 100,000 rupees per kW and annual saving will be approximately 30,000 rupees per kW resulting in a payback of 3.3 years.
- Green & Clean Electricity (Zero Carbon Emission)
- Saving for the Electricity Consumers
- Uninterrupted Supply of Electricity in case of hybrid systems
- Reliance on indigenous Resources
- Reduction in consumption Imported Fuel
- Less Load of DISCOs transmission System
- Saving of Transmission & Distribution (Line) Losses
- Less maintenance cost
- Ensure quality of solar system provided by the installers
- System Reliability & Protection
- Problem in system isolation (Safety issue for the DISCOs Staff)
The Government has taken excellent initiative by providing loans at an interest rate of only 6% per annum for installation of solar systems.
There is still a long way to go to tap the maximum available potential of the renewable energy. The government should make policies to facilitate the customers. With the increase in awareness of the Net Metering System, approximately 5,000 MW of clean solar energy can be added in the system without any investment by the government in next five years.
On this Quaid-e-Azam Day, let’s make a commitment to make Quaid’s Pakistan Clean and Green.
[box type=”note” align=”” class=”” width=””]The authors can be reached at twitter @farhan6309902[/box]