Electricity is a costly and, due to its frequent absence, a highly-treasured commodity in Pakistan. Pakistan’s electricity deficit still hovers around 3000-6000 MW/day.
Expensive imported oil and gas dominate the energy mix of Pakistan; gas: 47.5 %, oil: 30.5% of the total energy mix of Pakistan, which is why the common man has to bear the brunt of the high cost of electricity (Nepra rates range from 8-10 Rs. /unit). To meet its energy needs, Pakistan is gradually exploring avenues which will help in the production of decentralized power generation.
For a country like Pakistan, production of electricity by solar energy is proving to be one of the most promising means of electricity production.
The Dynamics of Net Metering
Net metering is a relatively new concept which requires a bi-directional meter or two different meters. Net metering allows the residential and commercial customers with on-grid or hybrid rooftop solar panels having a three-phase electricity connection to inject the excessive electricity into the national grid, thus offsetting some or all of the electricity which has been generated by solar panels.
Parliament of Pakistan Goes Solar
In February 2016, the parliament of Pakistan became the first ever parliament in the world to be completely run on solar power. In Pakistan, the phenomenon of net metering is still very new and has been regulated only for the Parliament till date.
What does net metering have it in me?
For a common citizen, solar energy not only means access to the cheap and uninterrupted flow of electricity but through net metering, the common citizen will also contribute electricity to the national grid and can earn profits for himself. This may happen in the long run, but once implemented, through net metering, the residential, commercial and industrial customer will be able to sell carbon credits as well. This practice is becoming more common in technologically developed countries.
What is the future of net metering in Pakistan?
British multinational law firm Eversheds states that Pakistan is one of the most exciting renewable markets globally, with an abundance of potential. The Government of Pakistan is providing subsidies to solar power generation companies and has already taken the initiative of issuing the license for net metering to the National Assembly of Pakistan, which is the hub of policy making in Pakistan.
This is indicative of the seriousness and commitment of Pakistani government in benefiting from solar power across the country. Currently, net metering has not been regulated on a wide-spread level because of technical lacunas like the absence of billing software, lack of training of the field staff and officers and technical incompetency. But it seems likely that these issues will be resolved in near future and net metering will be implemented across the country.