Monday January 30, 2023

Well-sited grid-support PVs to take care of T&D leakages

By Our Correspondent
November 01, 2022

KARACHI: Strategically sited grid-support solar photovoltaic (PV) applications have been one of the most effective tools to address the challenges of a leaky transmission and distribution system and regional disparities in power access, a study said.

According to the study carried out by the Policy Research Institute for Equitable Development (PRIED) launched on Monday, solar photovoltaic (PV) applications could provide many values to a transmission and distribution system. In addition to resource indigenisation, energy generation close to the end users was now seen as a novel solution for reducing losses.

These applications could play an instrumental role in loss reduction experienced by electric utilities—including both technical and non-technical losses by potentially deferring transformer and transmission line upgrades, equipment maintenance interval extension and distribution system reliability improvement. This, however, needs a facilitative business model solution. Pakistan is not only characterised by the absence of such emerging models, but also the current debate reflects very poorly on this ‘absence’ as the major preventing factor. Third-party solar, and public-private partnerships between a utility and third-party investor could emerge as a potential commercial solution for solarising high-loss feeders.

Naila Saleh, Project Manager at Agora EW and Technical Advisor at PRIED, said optimal placement of solar PV was not only imperative for improving economics by reducing losses in the distribution sector and ending discriminatory load-shedding in high-loss zones, but also for the net-zero decarbonisation drive.

“Pakistan has a positive advantage from starting a planning process which is more oriented toward sustainable and clean energy supply, rather than trying to use an old planning system that was made for different goals and for old technologies,” she said. Implantation of these business models would require the thoughtful application of a range of policy and regulatory levers—to stimulate efficient, sustainable investment in these new technologies.

“More thinking also needs to go into well-planned integration of this added capacity, and flexibility of customer-sited solar. Right economic signals need to be set for coupling solar with distributed energy storage—which will provide much-needed flexibility on the distribution network.”

It would allow customers to consume more solar generation on-site, rather than exporting to the grid and could unlock a much higher penetration of solar at the decentralised level, Saleh added. Saad Hassan Latif, Director Net Zero, Pakistan Environment Trust, said that there was a need to help the financially marginalised communities that could not afford solar financing. The communities in these income brackets also reside in high-loss configurations.

Amjad Islam, Deputy Manager Regulations at Peshawar Electric Supply Company, said, “We need regulations to implement such innovative business models.” He added that the national average transmission and distribution loss was 20 percent and around 8-16 hours of load shedding in 11Kv feeders according to their loss categories.

Consultant, Dr Irfan Yousuf said that the initiatives were under consideration of the power regulator to enhance the adoption of solar PV. He added that the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority was considering policy recommendations from the social development sector and energy policy personnel.