27 consumers are now supplying power under the Net Metering system
Power distribution authorities have started buying solar-generated electricity, from consumers' rooftop plants, under the newly-introduced Net Metering system.
According to officials, five of six power distribution companies have signed contracts with 27 consumers to procure solar power from their respective rooftop solar panels.
"These consumers are supplying 3.066MW of electricity to the national grid. We hope the number of consumers will rise, increasing the volume of electricity as well," said Mohammad Alauddin, joint secretary at the Power Division who is in-charge of renewable energy-related issues, to UNB.
The Power Division, on July 28, 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 a rooftop solar panel system—covering up to 70% capacity of the sanctioned load—and sell the additional or unconsumed solar power through a special meter; under an exchange arrangement.
Consumers will use their own solar power alongside that of the grid. However, on holidays, when solar power is not used, they can sell power to the national grid.
On working days, they can preserve their solar power at the grid, and sell it to their power supply company, or take it back for consumption.
At the end of the month, bills will be adjusted based on consumption and sales of solar power to the utilities. Consumers will be paid by the distribution company at a bulk rate if sales exceed consumption.
According to Power Division officials, the Rural Electrification Board (REB) is ahead of other entities, with the highest purchase of 2.650MW of electricity from 20 consumers.
The Power Development Board (PDB)—the principal organization of the power sector—trails other entities, in last place, as it has failed to sign a contract with any of its consumers.
The REB is followed by: North West Zone Power Distribution Company Limited (Nesco) with 364kW purchased from one consumer, West Zone Power Distribution Company Ltd (WZPDC) with 25kW from one client, Dhaka Electric Supply Company (Desco) with 13.5kW from two consumers, and Dhaka Power Distribution Company (DPDC) with 13.3kW from three consumers.
Officials said the Power Division issued an official order in August—to all the six power distribution companies in the country—asking each to purchase rooftop solar power from at least 20 consumers within the next three months, under the Net Metering System.
Unveiling this guideline, Power Secretary Dr Ahmed Kaikaus said: "It will be treated as a key target under their annual performance agreement signed with the ministry."
Power Cell Director Md Abdur Rouf, who was involved in framing the guideline, said there is no lower limit of a consumer's solar capacity.
However, the upper limit of the capacity is 4MW, he added.
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 Bangladesh.
Power Cell officials believe the government will be able to buy about 10-12MW of power from rooftop consumers as many large clients—like industries, apartment complexes, shopping malls, and hotels—have already set up rooftop solar power plants, for their own consumption, as part of the government policy.
Officials said the government has initiated the move to introduce the system to promote rooftop solar energy across the country; as part of its plan to generate 10% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
It aims to generate 3,168MW of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2021 in compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals, as well, said an official with the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority.