Rooftop solar system gets wider popularity

The rooftop solar power system in generating electricity is becoming more and more popular across the country as the users, beside their own benefits, also enjoy rebate on total electricity bills. The domestic Solar Net Metering System (SNMS) enables surplus electricity produced from solar power to regulate and direct (surplus) electricity to the national grid. Such practice of installing solar panels on the rooftop is becoming more popular across the country due to its extra benefit.

More than 500 SNMS with capacity of 10 megawatt (MW) of electricity has already been installed and the trend shows it is increasing. Rooftop solar power users, mostly industry based, are generating such electricity for their own consumption but the surplus electricity produced every day is contributed to the national grid which also benefits the individual solar users as they enjoy rebate on the total amount of surplus power contributed to the national grid. Eventually the domestic solar users enjoy refund on their final electricity bills.

Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA) official said the government published a net metering guideline in July, 2018. Net Metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the natio0nal grid. When solar power is not used by the house owners during holidays or long-term absence at home or for other reasons, the solar electricity can still be sold to the national grid. The bill is adjusted at the end of every month on the basis of the electricity contributed to the national grid produced from solar.

Under the system, the consumers, who use electricity from the grid can set up a rooftop solar 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.

Earlier, 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.

According to 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 500 consumers last month. The number was 394 MW in July.

REB is buying 7.3 MW of unconsumed solar electricity from its 118 consumers, NESCO 0.36MW from a single consumer, WZPDC is buying 0.529 MW from 69 consumers and PDB 0.656MW of solar power from 106 consumers. Meanwhile, DPDC is purchasing 0.929 MW of electricity from 103 consumers and DESCO 0.226 MW from 102 consumers.

An energy expert said that a large number of rooftops of government office buildings, schools, garment and other factories could easily be used for rooftop solar power generation. He believes that about 10,000 MW electricity can easily be produced from such rooftop solar system.

President of Bangladesh Solar and Renewable Energy Association Dipal C Barua told Bangladesh Post, “The net metering system is a good initiative to promote the use of renewable energy. Under this system consumers and government both will be benefited. If the industrialists feel encouraged, a significant volume of electricity can be generated from this arrangement.”

"There are huge opportunity for renewable energy in the country. We can build a solar nation within a short time and easily. To this end, we must ensure quality of the product. We have to build strong technical and monitoring team,” he added. Dipal also said that the production cost of solar electricity is decreasing day by day, on the other hand, the tariff rate of grid electricity is being increasing. If the industrialists use solar power in their factories, they get global reputation for using the green energy.”

In view of the challenge of primary fuel sourcing and supply, the government has developed the power generation strategy based on fuel diversification to enhance energy security.Alongside the conventional energy sources, renewable energy will play a significant role in meeting the future demand of electricity as well as fulfilling environmental obligations.

The Renewable Energy Policy of Bangladesh mandates that 10 percent of electricity to come from renewable energy sources by 2020. In absolute terms, this means that at least 2000 MW has to be generated from renewable energy sources by 2020. Net metering is one of the tools to popularize the renewable energy based electricity generation in the country.