Power distribution utilities have started buying solar electricity from consumers’ rooftop plants under the newly introduced ‘Net Metering’ system.
According to officials, five out of six power distribution companies have signed contracts with a total of 27 consumers to procure solar electricity from their respective rooftop solar panels.
“These consumers are supplying 3.066 MW of electricity to the national grid of the distribution companies. We hope the number of consumers will rise soon as well as further increase in the volume,” Mohammad Alauddin, joint secretary at the Power Division who is in-charge of renewable energy-related issue, told UNB.
The Power Division on July 28 last unveiled the “Net Metering Guideline 2018” to buy rooftop solar power from consumers.
How does the idea work?
Under the system, any consumer can set up rooftop solar system covering upto 70 percent capacity of the sanctioned load and sell the additional or unconsumed solar power after meeting his/her demand through a special metre under an exchange arrangement.
Consumers will use their own solar power alongside the grid. But on holidays when solar power is not used, they can sell power to the national grid. Even, on the working days, they can preserve their solar power to the grid and sell it to his power supplying company or take it back for its own consumption.
At the end of the month, bills will be adjusted on the basis of consumption and sales of solar power to the utilities and the consumer will get payment from the distribution company at a bulk rate if his sale overruns the consumption.
According to Power Division officials, Rural Electrification Board (REB) is much ahead of other entities with highest purchase of 2.650 MW of electricity from 20 consumers while the Power Development Board (PDB), the principal organisation in the power sector, holds the bottom position as it failed to sign any contract with any of its consumers.
The REB was followed by North West Zone Power Distribution Company Limited (Nesco) with 364 kW purchasing from one consumer, West Zone Power Distribution Company Ltd (WZPDC) 25 kW from one client, Dhaka Electric Supply Company (Desco) 13.5 kW from two consumers and Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC) with 13.3 kW from three consumers.
Officials said the Power Division had issued an official order in August last to all the six power distribution utilities of the country asking each of them to purchase rooftop solar power from at least 20 consumers within the next three months under the Net Metering System.
While unveiling this guideline, Power Secretary Dr Ahmed Kaikaus had announced that each of the distribution companies must buy solar power from at least 20 consumers. “It’ll be treated as a key target under their annual performance agreement (APA) signed with the ministry,” he had said.
Power Cell Director Md Abdur Rouf, who was involved in framing the guideline, said there is no lowest limit of a consumer’s solar capacity. But the upper limit of the capacity is 4 MW.He said the order followed the Power Division’s decision to buy rooftop solar power as part of its move to promote renewable energy across the country.
Power Cell officials believe the government will be able to buy about 10-12 MW power from rooftop consumers as many large clients like industries, apartment complex, shopping malls and hotels have already set up rooftop solar power plants for their own consumption as part of the government policy.
Even, individual consumers, who installed rooftop solar power system, can sell additional electricity to the government under the Net Metering System.Officials said the government has initiated the move to introduce the system aiming to promote rooftop solar energy across the country as part of its plan to generate 10 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
There is a target to generate 3,168 MW of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2021 in compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well, said an official of the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (Sreda).