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Bottlenecks hamper net metering take off

According to reports, net metering, launched more than a year ago by the central government, has not taken off the way it was expected, thanks to some glaring loopholes.

Prakash Nayak, chairman, power panel, Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET) and a former top official at ABB, said initiatives like net metering, generation-based incentives and renewable power obligation are the right way ahead. “However, they are not catching up thanks to more loopholes than one. There are questions in the minds of implementers whether they would get paid for excess power, which they generate and feed it to power utilities. Even in the case of bulk generation of solar/solar-thermal, there are question marks over how the repayment mechanism works. It is therefore necessary to address the basic model itself. The objective should be towards bulk generation, delivering what has been committed by both developer and utilities and not just land grabbing, which is what it appears to be at present,” Nayak told Financial Chronicle.

IET is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with over 1,60,000 members in 127 countries. With over 10,000 members, India has the largest membership base for the IET outside of the UK.

Explaining, Nayak said that net metering has already been rolled out in as many as 14 state utilities. However applicability and mass deployment of the same has not happened. “There are some loopholes in the initiatives like the commitment from distribution utilities and accepting the application with a single-window clearance. For a country our size, there is time lag between announcement and final acceptance. In my current role, I have set up a net metering system, which has been active for almost a year. Both my office and house are powered by renewable energy systems. We had deployed a similar system two years ago in Sri Lanka and the benefits are beginning to show.”

In the energy sector, IET is working towards creating awareness on how core engineering as an attractive career option for young engineers and thereby working towards improving the talent pool in core engineering.

Nayak suggested that in large cities, consumers should start producing their own requirement from natural resources, sun and wind and use them efficiently. “There should be a greater sense of energy efficiency. For example, people should use electronic gadgets, which works on DC (conversion efficiency and loss is close to 10 per cent) to bring down consumption and sell excess power generated to prospective buyers,’’ he said.

Similarly in villages, micro grids should be brought in for distributed generation. It should be made mandatory to be run by villagers so that un-electrified villages will become self-reliant. While helping attain self-sufficiency in energy, it will also help generate job opportunities and promote indigenous industries.

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