Net-metering installations reach cumulative capacity of 148MW, study reveals

ISLAMABAD: A study conducted and published by Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) titled ‘Barriers and Drivers of Solar Prosumage: A Case-Study of Pakistan’ states that as of November 2020, net-metering installations in Pakistan have reached a cumulative capacity of 148MW, which contrasts very poorly in comparison with other peer regional countries such as India where distributed generation has exceeded 5GW of installed capacity.

The study further observes that strong geographic uneven growth exists across the DISCOs in terms of distributed generation uptake where around 70 percent of growth is concentrated in three major utilities namely IESCO, LESCO and KEL.

Overall, the challenges at inter-connection phase were identified as the dominant challenge to PV (photo-voltaic system) development, which included time lapse in acquiring of three-phase metering equipment at the initial stage, absence of online facility for applications, unavailability of bi-directional meters, and unnecessary delay in processing of the applications at every stage. The cumbersome procedure makes it quite challenging to get the generation license.

Further, since DISCOs are playing the primary intermediary in this entire process-playing the role of coordinator between distributed resources-they continue to be reluctant towards distributed generation growth owing to administrative burden of processing applications, perceived fears of revenue losses and integration challenges, etc. Although they are obliged by law to implement the net-metering regulations however currently no accountability mechanism exists which could bind them to do the same.

The report also observes skewed concentration of distributed generation in resourceful sections of society. This skewed concentration is indicated to be rooted in ‘high cost of solar PV installation’ and the interlinked challenge of ‘difficulty in access to borrowing’ for financing the solar PV system. And while State Bank of Pakistan has introduced a scheme for supporting rooftop solar yet its limited adoption by commercial banks continue to restrict borrowing for these installations. In parallel, absence of Fee of Service Models-such as third party investors-again contribute to slow diffusion of solar PV among larger sections of society.

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