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ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a seminar, Friday, while urging the government to devise viable solar energy policy have warned that the floodgates have already opened, and no one can stop the roll out of solar technology.

They were speaking at a conference titled, “Solar Net Metering Conundrum: Adapting Solar Net Metering to Evolving Market Dynamics in Pakistan”, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and Energy Update.

The energy experts urged the government to introduce and implement net metering policy as an urgent measure for promoting solar energy as the cheapest power resource amid growing energy demand.

They said that the feedback and recommendations from this brainstorming session were commendable and no doubt solar and net metering are viable solutions that are working around the globe acknowledged by all the stakeholders.

At present, utility companies’ role needed to be considered which was changing gradually world over as energy managers and solar net metering systems should be allowed as storage batteries would pour in with the passage of time and it would add to the capacity of the government, they maintained.

Former Chairman National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) Tauseef Farooqi, while speaking on the occasion said: “It will be insane to claim limiting of solar energy roll out as it will not even benefit the national grid whereas the fashion in which net metering is done it should be probed either its catering for the needs of the most deserving communities”.

He added that the cheapest electricity at Rs12.3 could be easily inducted into the system but the government was buying it for Rs23 per unit from the elite power producers that were being paid by the poorest of the country. He suggested that the cheapest electricity should be bought with net metering being promoted at the community scale by producing cheap electricity. The masses should avoid misuse of net metering to avoid discrimination against poorer and contribute their share to the clean energy mix, Farooqi said.

He further said that drastic change in the national energy mix was the need of the hour amid growing solar net metering as solar would compensate in the day time but the load would shift in the evening on the system that would require high-speed generators to manage the burden.

“We will need peaking plants amid growing net metering, whereas the pricing mechanism needs to be shaped to avoid previous mistakes. However, the sector should create an electricity market with a competitive environment,” he said.

Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, executive director SDPI said despite the government’s repeated assurances of no taxation on solar panels and reversing net metering formula, it was pertinent to work out research-based solutions to the problem that had stirred debate among the quarters concerned.

He said the policy reversal scenario in the energy sector was not new as the nation witnessed such a transition while shifting from diesel-based vehicles to those running on CNG fuel.

Dr Suleri mentioned that due to technology transformation solar panels were becoming affordable that would further expedite the solar energy roll out and made policy reversal on the cards.

Dr Khalid Walid, research fellow SDPI and energy expert discussed the dilemma of net metering in the country focusing on Pakistan’s consumption mix, decreasing demand, increasing tariff and dirty grid, Nepra’s own formula, and Pakistan’s NDCs.

Abu Bakar from Amreli Steel said the prosumers were cross-subsidised by consumers as the ancillary services at the grid were being passed on to the grid and not paid by the solar consumers. He suggested that the government should introduce feed in tariff policy that would help induct major plants of solar in the centre would save capital and avoid regulatory hiccups. He demanded that the overall policy revamp was needed and the renewables should be promoted along with improvement in ancillary services.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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