Net metering SRO 892(1) 2015 is excellent Order and It should be implemented as early as possible.

Net Metring Scenario in Pakistan

Faiz M Bhutta

 

In newspapers, it was advertised that NEPRA has issued SRO 892 (1) 2015 after three years of its effort for implementation of Net Metering in Pakistan and then we heard news of operation of 1 MW on-Grid solar Power Plant at National Parliament building with net metering arrangement and then I was witness to activation of net meter at 178KW solar Power Plant at Pakistan Engineering Council.

First we see what is net metering and what are its pros and cons and what are the difficulties DISCOs are facing in implementation of SRO 892(1) 2015 for net metering.

Net metering is a billing arrangement by which a net meter ( Bi-directional meter) is installed at any Grid Tied Renewable Energy system ( Solar and wind power system)  which import electricity when production from solar system is less than demand and it exports electricity when electricity production through solar system is more than the demand and at the end of month the Utility company sends the monthly bill of the net meter and this gives a saving to consumer and benefit to Utility of having solar electricity for other consumers to use when Renewable system exports electricity.

Now question is that why this beautiful idea and SRO is not being implemented even after one year of issuance of net metering.

The barriers in implementation of Net metering are as under,

  1. Lack of awareness, training and expertise at DISCOs end.

  2. DISCOs have fear of Loss of Revenue.

  3. Fear of Grid imbalance and its stability

  4. Lack of procedures and SOPs for its implementation

  5. Software upgrades at DISCOs end to account for net metering.

  6. Inter-connect study charges, audit staff and consultants

  7. DISCOs want to be sure that Installed solar or wind system includes safety and power quality components. These components include switches to disconnect your system from the grid in the event of a power surge or power failure (so repair men are not electrocuted) and power conditioning equipment to ensure that Renewable power exactly matches the voltage and frequency of the electricity flowing through the grid.

  8. Certified system Installers are not available in Pakistan to understand Interconnect requirements and install the Renewable Energy Systems as per IEEE, IEC or UL or NPFA safety and Quality standards.

To address above safety and quality issue, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has written a standard that addresses all grid-connected distributed generation including renewable energy systems. IEEE 1547-2003 provides technical requirements and tests for grid-connected operation. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has developed UL 1741 to certify inverters, converters, charge controllers, and output controllers for power-producing stand-alone and grid-connected renewable energy systems. UL 1741 verifies that inverters comply with IEEE 1547 for grid-connected applications.

The National Electrical Code (NEC), a product of the National Fire Protection Association, deals with electrical equipment and wiring safety.

Some of the technical requirements for interconnection to the electrical grid are:

  • Effective grounding – Your generation system must be effectively grounded.

  • Protection against islanding – You will be required to provide an “anti-islanding” scheme. Islanding is a condition in which a solar or wind system stays energized and operates by itself even when Grid is disconnected or de-energized.  Islanding is not allowed as per SRO 892 because it provides safety to utility workers working on power lines.

  • Disconnect switch with visible break –Your distributed energy resource facility must include listed or Approved AC disconnect switch that provides a visible break, is lockable in the open position, and is located between the production meter and the sub-panel or other connection to the generating facility. Your disconnect switch must be accessible to Power Utility personnel at any time of the day.

  • Protection system meets the latest IEEE 1547 OR UL 1741 or IES equivalent standard – For net-metered generation, it must also meet Utility Policy for Power Quality and Safety and if the system does not meet the necessary standards, consumer will be responsible for purchasing and installing additional protection equipment.

 

IESCO is ahead of all DISCOS in knowledge and expertise of Net metering applications as they are having two solar power plants working with at net metering arrangements and they have also designed some SOPs but because of up-gradation of software its implementation is late. So IESCO should lead Net metering implementation and should provide awareness and training to other DISCOs.

Now we see main features of SRO 892(1) 2015 and improvements required in SRO for easy implementation,

  1. In SRO, DG is distributed generator and DC is distribution company

  2. Three phase solar systems having 1 KW to  1 MW are allowed under SRO.

  3. Solar and Wind Power systems are covered in SRO

  4. About 100 days will take from application submission to License issuance.

  5. Clause 9.5 states that The grid connected inverters and generators shall comply with Underwriter Laboratories UL 1741 standard (Inverters, Converters, Controllers and Interconnection System Equipment for Use with Distributed Energy Resources) which addresses the electrical interconnection design of various forms of generating equipment, IEEE 1547 2003, IEC 61215, EN or other international standards.

  6. Customer and Utility company will sign interconnect agreement which sets the terms and conditions under which a renewable energy system can be safely connected to the utility grid and outlines metering arrangements for the system.

  7. License will be for three years and renewed after three years.
     

WAY FORWARD

  • Net metering SRO 892(1) 2015 is excellent Order and It should be implemented as early as possible.

  • DISCOs should set up clear SOPs and provide one window operation.

  • Total time taken from application to interconnection should not be more than 15 days up to 20KW and 45 days from 20 to 100KW and 60 days from 100KW to 1 MW. SRO should be reviewed to accommodate these time durations.

  • SOPs should clearly define the Interconnect study or inspection charges as per slabs and who will conduct this study or do audit.

  • IEC equivalent to UL standard 1741 for inverters should also be mentioned as IEC standards are mostly practiced in Pakistan and number of standards should be fixed rather all other standards.

  • List of consultants should be approved for Interconnect study.

  • Agreement should be for 10 years as the life of solar system is for 25 years.

  • List of approved manufacturers for Inverters should be included. AEDB, DISCOs and NEPRA all should work as team for removing barriers to implementation of Net metering SRO and develop SOPs for Power Quality and Safety Issues.

  • Provincial Energy Department should issue new regulations in line with IEEE, IEC and NFPA standards and codes for power quality and safety guidelines in consultation with DISCOs and NEPRA.

  • One window operation should be ensured.

  • Ministry of water and power should make a special committee on Net metering having representation from AEDB, DISCOs and NEPRA for quick implementation of net Metering.

  • DISCOs should issue guideline for Net Metering.

 

 

About Faiz M Bhutta
Faiz M Bhutta is a Professional Engineer with more than 30 years of experience.  He is senior energy consultant and member of Energy Committee of Pakistan Engineering Council. He is director PRENAC and Head of SAENORE (South Asian Experts Network on Renewable Energy).

 

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