|Pakistan Solar Map Multi-year mean (2000-2012) of daily Global Horizontal Irradiance (GHI) for Pakistan in kWh/m2 [Note: preliminary, unvalidated results] Source: World Bank|
Last year, NEPRA, the nation's power regulator, approved a regulatory framework for solar and wind energy for both commercial and residential installations. The framework includes feed-in tariffs for commercial power producers and net metering for residential applications of up to 1 MW.
Under the new Net Metering Law, NEPRA, the Pakistani power regulator, will grant power generation licenses to solar and wind system owners. The owners will need to register the critical equipment used, particularly the make and model of inverter and generator used. Among other technical considerations, the generator must also install a manual disconnect device to take the system off the network if necessary, according to details published by PV Tech publication.
Pakistan has already introduced feed-in tariffs (FiTs) for larger renewable power systems to supply electricity to the national grid on a commercial scale. It paved the way for a 1000 MW Quaid-e-Azam solar park being built in Bahawalpur.
Cost of solar power is rapidly declining. However, Pakistan's NEPRA's attempt to cut tariff down from 14.15 cents to 9.25 cents per unit is being resisted strongly by Zonergy Company Limited, a Chinese company working on Quaid-e-Azam solar park power project, according to a story in Express Tribune newspaper. This is in sharp contrast to the record low solar tariff of Indian Rs 4.63 per unit (Pak Rs. 7.19) for 500 MW solar project by US-based Sun-Edison, according to Indian media reports.
Pakistan's renewable power policy and regulatory frameworks have drawn praise from international law firm Eversheds which has described the country as “one of the most exciting renewables markets globally, with an abundance of potential”. Alternative Energy Development Board (AEDB) of Pakistan's CEO, Amjad Ali Awan has said that "Pakistan’s renewable market is relatively new but it provides an attractive investment opportunity with compelling structures which make it bankable as well as marketable."
Net metering law is necessary but not sufficient to promote widespread use of renewable energy. It will take serious coordinated efforts of Pakistan power regulator NEPRA, the country's nascent solar industry and various utilities like K-Electric to start implementation. Meanwhile, consumers could install a stand-alone rooftop solar system that can be connected to the grid in future. They just need to make sure to select high-quality equipment, particularly inverter and switch, for this purpose which will most likely be acceptable to utilities.
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