The government has finalized a net-energy metering guideline to help the country’s household, commercial or industrial consumers of grid-connected electricity use solar energy for power generation installing solar panels on their own roofs.
The guideline is also aimed at facilitating them to become electricity producers meeting their power demand, be it partly or fully, on their own, and even sell excess electricity to the power distribution agencies or companies.
Net metering is a method of recording both import from the national by consumers and export from solar-panels to grid by them.
In this regard, Power Cell, under the Power Division, has recently appointed a consultant to draft the guideline suitable for renewable energy integration to the national grid.
The consultant has already submitted the finalized guideline to the Power Cell.
Now, the Power Division will hold a meeting for accepting the guideline where officials and stakeholders of the power sector will be invited, sources said.
The guideline is meant to establish a mechanism for integrating distributed renewable energy into the grid, Power Cell Director General Mohammad Hossain told the Dhaka Tribune.
Net-metering can potentially drive widespread implementation of distributed generation by incentivizing end-users to adopt localized power generation through renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind and biomass, he said.
“The solar photovoltaic (PV) power system will be installed on the consumer’s premises or any empty space on the roof of buildings, on parking lot, other sheds, boundary wall, premises of any building/ factory that uses sunlight for direct conversion into electricity through the PV technology,” he said.
According to the draft guideline, Bangladesh enjoys a good amount of sunshine and the use of solar energy continues to grow with the cost of solar technology declining. Incentivising grid-connected customers are of utmost importance to promote renewable energy-based distributed generation.
Net metering is one of the tools to popularize the renewable energy-based electricity generation in the country, it reads.
Under the move, prosumers (who consume and produce electricity) will be allowed to connect their renewable energy systems to the distribution grid.
It allows the export of energy generated from distributed renewable energy sources in exchange of credits in the form of energy or money, the draft said.
Most of the recent capacity addition is from standalone solar systems, generally implied as solar home systems (SHSs). There are 4.5 million cumulative installations of SHSs in predominantly off-grid areas of Bangladesh.
“Bangladesh aims to achieve universal access to electricity and join the ranks of middle-income countries by 2021. In order to achieve the growth target, the power generation capacity needs to be significantly increased to meet the growing demand,” Shahriar Ahmed Chowdhury, the consultant and also the director of Centre for Energy Research of United International University.
“But power generation now largely relies on fossil fuels, the stock and supply of which is limited in Bangladesh.
He said: “Bangladesh adopted, keeping pace with the global trend, the Renewable Energy Policy in 2008, which suggests that 10 % of electricity be sourced from renewable energy by 2020.”
In view of the challenge of primary fuel sourcing and supply, the government has recently developed the power generation strategy based on fuel diversification to enhance energy security, he continued.
“Alongside the conventional energy sources, renewable energy will play a significant role in fulfilling the future demand of electricity as well as conforming environmental obligations,” the expert added.
Despite a huge potential, grid-connected electricity consumers are yet to benefit from solar energy, he observed.
He emphasized on preparing a guideline for net metering system, establishing a financial mechanism for renewable energy incorporation into the national grid, and popularizing renewable energy-based rooftop or grid-tie system in Bangladesh.
He said the guideline would help more those, especially business entrepreneurs, who focus on green factory to reduce carbon emission, as it will also help them get incentive on export.
The building owners consuming minimum 10kW will be entitled to generate solar power in line with the guideline.
Once allowed, the landlord will have to use 70% produce from solar panels, while the rest electricity will come from the national grid.
What the guideline says
Net metering guideline is an approach to encourage distributed renewable energy development by allowing utility customers to generate their own electricity from solar or any other renewable sources and use the electricity produced to offset the amount of energy they draw from the utility grid (sometimes called the distribution grid) and any access generation can feed into the grid.
Encouraging self-consumption of the electricity produced from renewable energy sources, among the consumer to reduce dependency on the grid power is a goal of the government.
The guideline is also designed to help reduce electricity bills by lowering the use of power from the national grid, secure payment made for the electricity fed into the grid in the event of surplus generation and to allow the consumers to interconnect with the distribution network.
Contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emission by promoting power generation from renewables while lessening the country’s dependence on expensive imported fossil fuels are also behind the government move.