Net Metering system getting popular

7MW solar power supplied to nat’l grid in May

The use of solar power system under Net Metering system is becoming increasingly popular across the country. About 328 net metering systems have already been installed and at present around 7 megawatt (MW) of electricity generated from solar system is being supplied to the national grid.

Consumers are selling their unconsumed power from the solar system to the national grid and thus are benefiting through the new system, an official of Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA) said. Net Metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid.

Under the system, the consumers, who use electricity from the grid can set up a rooftop solar home system, covering up to 70 percent capacity of the sanctioned load and can adjust their bills through an exchange arrangement by a special meter. This system will save a large amount of electricity on the subscriber’s electricity bill.

The new system is that the consumers will use their own solar power alongside the grid. But when solar power is not used during holidays or for other reasons, the consumers can sell it to the national grid. Even on working days, they can save solar power for the grid and sell it to the power distribution company concerned. It is also called power bank.

The bill is adjusted at the end of every month on the basis of consumption of electricity and sale of solar power to the utilities. A consumer gets payment from the distribution company at bulk rate if his sale overruns the consumption. Even, individual consumers who have installed rooftop solar power system can sell the extra electricity to the government through the net metering system.

The government and entrepreneur will have to sign an agreement in this regard. In this case, there is no lower limit on the solar power capacity of the subscriber. But the upper limit of power is 3MW. According SREDA officials, six state-owned power distribution companies -- Power Development Board (PDB), Rural Electrification Board (REB), Dhaka Electric Supply Company (DESCO), Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC), West Zone Power Distribution Company Ltd (WZPDC), and Northern Electricity Supply Company Ltd (NESCO) -- purchased solar power from 328 consumers in May. The number was 179 in February.

The sale, which started in the last quarter of 2018, reached 4.243MW in February and in May it stood 6.95 MW. REB is buying 4.99MW of unconsumed solar electricity from its 65 consumers, NESCO 0.36MW from a single consumer, WZPDC is buying 0.329MW from 33 consumers, PDB purchase of 0.187MW of solar power from 45 consumers. Meanwhile, DPDC is purchasing 0.187MW from 45 consumers and DESCO 0.126MW from 90 consumers.

Energy Adviser to the Prime Minister Dr Tawfiq e Elahi Chowdhury said the government will give incentive to the net metering system if it is necessary. This will create a huge opportunity for the consumers to use their own electricity from solar power and sell unconsumed power to the utilities.

State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid said that united efforts will be made to implement renewable energy. The new system will boost the green energy production in the country and rooftop of industries and other large buildings will get a good chance to utilise them for solar power generation.

Energy expert said a large number of rooftops of government office buildings, schools, garment and other factories could easily be used for rooftop solar power generation. They believe, about 10000 MW electricity can easily come from rooftops of the buildings in and outside Dhaka.

In addition State-Owned IDCOL started the Solar Home System (SHS) program in January 2003 to fulfill basic electricity requirement of the off-grid rural people of Bangladesh. About 5 million SHSs have been installed under the program in the remote areas where electrification through gird expansion is challenging and costly. The program has been acclaimed as the largest off-grid renewable energy program in the world.

The Power Division unveiled ‘Net Metering Guideline 2018’ on July 28 last as part of the government’s initiative to buy electricity generated at the rooftop solar home system of consumers. The government plans to generate 10 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020.