Solar energy to be brought into national power grid
Amid a worsening energy crisis, Pakistan has approved the use of grid- connected solar energy, rooftop solar installations and mortgage financing for home solar panels to boost uptake of clean energy in the country.
The government has also reversed course and eliminated a 32.5 per cent tax imposed on imported solar equipment in the country’s 2014- 15 budget. The reversal aims to bring down the cost of installing solar panels.
The approval of net- metering — which allows solar panel purchasers to sell power they produce to the national grid — is a major breakthrough that could spur use of solar energy and help Pakistan’s government cut power shortages in the long run, said Asjad Imtiaz Ali, chief executive officer of the Alternative Energy Development Board, a public organisation.
“The initiative will help scale up demand for solar energy across Pakistan,” he said, “and we hope the increased demand will also result in sufficient decreases in the price of solar equipment.”
Ali said the government decided to cut newly imposed taxes on the import of solar panels following pressure from business owners, the public and media.
And the decision to allow solar generators to sell their excess generating capacity means “consumers can now install rooftop solar systems and sell the extra energy to the national grid,” he said.
Currently, Pakistan’s rural areas face blackouts of over 11 hours a day while urban areas suffer up to eight hours of daily power cuts. The total power shortfall stands around 6,000 megawatts.
Safeer Hussain, a registrar at the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority ( Nepra), said consumers who intend to sell solar- generated electric power to a distribution company would need to register with his authority.
“Net- metering is a sophisticated system and the applicant would be responsible for the installation of the equipment used for interconnection,” he said.
HOW IT WORKS
Net- metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the national grid.
If a solar household uses more grid power than it supplies to the grid from its solar panels, it would still be billed each month for that excess power. But if it supplies more electricity than it uses in a month, then it will receive a credit against future bills or, be paid for the power on an annual basis, Hussain said.
“The tariff applicable for purchase of electricity from the consumer will be the same at