Holistic Policy Revamp Urgent For Promoting Solar Energy As Cheapest Power Resource: Experts


Holistic policy revamp urgent for promoting solar energy as cheapest power resource: Experts

ISLAMABAD, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 17th May, 2024) The experts at a roundtable on solar net metering challenge on Friday demanded a holistic revamp of existing policy as an urgent measure for promoting solar energy as a cheapest power resource amid growing energy demand.

The Sustainable Development Policy Institute and Energy Update organized the roundtable discussion on "Solar Net Metering Conundrum: Adapting Solar Net Metering to Evolving Market Dynamics in Pakistan".

In his opening remarks, 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 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 solar energy roll out and made policy reversal on the cards.

The SDPI Executive Director mentioned that it was the duty of the thinktank to initiate a well-informed discussion on pros and cons of the decision while considering the country’s environmental obligations, nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) to be implemented in 2026 with international, regional and local implication for Pakistani industry.

Dr Khalid Walid, Research Fellow SDPI and Energy Expert discussed the dilemma of net metering in the country focusing Pakistan’s consumption mix , decreasing demand, increasing tariff and dirty grid, NEPRA’s own formula, and Pakistan’s NDCs.

Former Chairman NEPRA, Touseef Farooqi said the flood gates had opened and no one could not stop roll out of solar power technology.

“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 said.

He added that the cheapest electricity at Rs12.3 could be easily inducted into the system but the government was Rs 23 per unit from the elite power producers that was 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 of poorer and contribute their share into the clean energy mix, Touseef Farooqi said.

AbuBakar from Amreli Steel said the prosumers were cross subsidized 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 center would save capital and avoid regulatory hiccups.

He demanded that the overall policy revamp was needed and the renewables should be promoted alongwith improvement in ancillary services.

Moin Fudda, said the power sector should support industry by providing them subsidized energy in the second shift to run its operations.

Fiazan, Energy Expert said the Renewable Energy (RE) distribution policy was adopted to provide relief to the masses through solar power adoption.

“When power is inducted beyond a certain limit then it passes high voltage power flow that causes damaging impacts and causes reverse power flows impacting the system. 80% distribution power capacity of transformer can be injected with solar within one feeder, but this principle is not being followed in many areas and it’s the responsibility of the distribution company not the masses or the commercial sector,” he said.

Tauseef, IGCP said there was a need bring drastic change in our energy mix 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.

Naeem Qureshi, Managing Editor of Energy Update said the policy initiatives of the country in energy sector lacked sustainability and stability that jeopardise consistency.

“A ten to 15 years plan should be formed that should be unalterable by any government to ensure persistent growth in the sector for long-term output as policy continuity is crucial for energy sector,” he said.

He suggested that formation of proper policy that should facilitate investors, local consumers and market.

Energy Update would ensure follow up of the policy recommendations by SDPI at the government level, he added.

Dr Irfan Mirza said the government decisions on the solar power sector should be guided by the policy recommendations of this forum.

"We need to reckon global trends in the solar power sector and understand the risk of events to overtake planning due to AI-based information era. However, there should be gradual indigenization in adopting to solar power solutions as prosumers needs to be further facilitated to adopt storage capacities by the utilities," he added.

Irfan Ahmed, a energy expert said solar power consumers were our future power producers that demanded the policy makers to look after their financial and other needs.

Nisar, Chairman RE Association said the feedback and recommendations from this brainstorming session were commendable.

"No doubt solar and net metering are viable solutions that are working around the globe. All the stakeholders here recognize this," he added.

At present, utility companies role needed to be considered which was changing gradually world over as energy managers, he added.

Solar net metering system should be allowed as storage batteries would pour in with the passage of time and it would add to the capacity of the government, he added.