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Pakistan approves regulation to encourage use of solar energy

Solar Energy initiative to add 5,000 to 7,000 megawatts to national grid

Gulf News

Islamabad

To encourage the use of solar energy amid worsening energy crisis, Pakistan government has launched a new regulation for the solar power net metering system.

The certification regulation was approved by the Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) to boost uptake of clean energy in the country and to encourage consumers to produce solar electricity and sell it to the national grid.

The AEDB board of directors gave the go-ahead in the 41st meeting on Wednesday chaired by the Federal Minister for Power Division Sardar Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari.

“The move is bound to bring green energy and the biggest renewable electricity source of around 5,000 to 7,000 megawatts can be exploited,” he said.

The idea of getting compensated for excess energy generated is appealing to many homeowners. The minister highlighted that consumers with the desire to install solar panels with net meters up to 25 kilovolts would be facilitated in installing the system within days compared to the current process that take months.

“We are actually bringing on the doorstep the profitable business of electricity generation for everyone,” Leghari stated.

Energy experts stressed upon initiating a public awareness campaign so that maximum number of people could take benefit of the scheme.

The board discussed initiatives of the government and AEDB to promote renewable energy technologies with special emphasis on the net metering system. It also approved the AEDB (Certification) Regulations 2017 for the certification of installers/vendors of off-grid renewable energy installations.

Experts noted that net metering-based applications not only lessen the burden on the national grid, but reduce the fuel import bill, check the emission of greenhouse gases and increase the use of solar energy.

A scheme for converting all electricity-run tube wells in Balochistan to solar power was also approved in the meeting. At least 10,000 solar water pumps will be installed in the first phase to replace the existing electricity-run tube wells.

Currently, more than 30,000 electricity-powered tube wells with a sanctioned load of more than 480 megawatts are operational in the province, which is being subsidised by the government by providing Rs21 billion (Dh73.2 million) annually. By switching to solar power, the burden on the national grid will ease and the subsidy will be phased out, reducing the circular debt.

The National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) first approved the Net Metering policy in 2015 in a move to spur use of solar energy. The net-metering allows solar panel purchasers to sell power they produce to the national grid, helping Pakistan’s government cut power shortages.

Pakistan is blessed with multiple renewable energy resources such as wind, solar, hydro, and biomass which can help ease the current gap between the demand and production of electricity which is 5000—8000MW with an increase of 6—8 per cent per annum, according to a paper, ‘Renewable energy deployment to combat energy crisis in Pakistan’, published in 2016.

“Sindh is endowed with wind potential in the South, Baluchistan is rich with solar potential in the West, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is rich with hydro in the northeast area.”

Pakistan’s energy generation capacities stand at 120,000MW for wind, 2,900,000MW for solar, 5500MW for biomass, and 42,000MW for hydropower, according to the study.

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