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Rooftop solar power: ‘Net metering can ensure cheaper electricity for garment factories’

Garment factories can get cheaper electricity if they go for net metering after setting up rooftop solar system for electricity generation.

The utility billing mechanism can save them thousands of taka on their electricity bills every year. So, it is a good reason to make the money-saving choice and go for solar net metering sooner rather than later.

If any garment factory installs rooftop solar system to meet its demand through a third party’s cost, it’s electricity tariff will be at least lowered by Tk1 per unit (kilowatt-hour) compared to the existing rate, Rashedul Alam, assistant director of Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (Sreda), said.

And if a factory sets up the system at its own cost, the tariff will be lower, Rashedul said Wednesday at the Sreda organised workshop: “Scaling Up Net Metered Rooftop Solar in Garments Industry.”

Prime Minister’s Energy Adviser Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury, Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association President Rubana Huq also spoke at the programme.

Net metering allows electricity consumers to connect their rooftop solar system to the distribution grid and those making excess power with their solar panel systems can send it back to the grid.

The government recently introduced the net metering system (NMS) to encourage the use of green energy in industries under which the industry owners can sell their surplus or unconsumed electricity to the grid and adjust their monthly bills.

The tariff of electricity will be maximum Tk7.50 per kilowatt-hour (each unit) if a solar rooftop system with a 20-year lifetime is set up in a factory by a third party operator, taking a soft loan from financial institutions, Rashedul said.

The factories are now paying Tk8.53 per unit at the industrial rate. If the factory owners set up the system on their own, the tariff will be Tk3.10 per unit – less than half of the existing rate – the Sreda assistant director said.

Dr Tawfiq-e-Elahi said the use of solar electricity will not only bring financial benefits for the garment industries, but it will also give them green credentials.

“Sreda should also find out a policy and mechanism for the household solar users so that they can also get benefitted from green energy consumption.”

Dr Kaikaus, however, questioned the cost-benefit calculation method where the opportunity cost of the rooftop is missing.

And Rubana Huq called on the government to simplify the loan process for the interested factory owners to encourage them to set up green energy system at their factories.

Source: United News of Bangladesh