Windhoek — Namibia's heaving and overloaded energy sector is set for some slight relief if news of Windhoek's implementation of the recently gazetted net metering rules is anything to go by.
The City of Windhoek announced recently that following the gazetting of the net metering rules in November 2016 the City would commence with implementing the rules effective July 1.
Net metering is a billing mechanism that credits solar energy system owners for the electricity they add to the grid. For example, if a residential customer has a photovoltaic (PV) system on the home's rooftop, it may generate more electricity than the home uses during daylight hours.
The CEO of the Windhoek Municipality, Robert Kahimise, confirmed the City has a database of all customers that have registered their grid-connected PV solar installations and have the correct bi-directional electricity meter installed that enables it to implement the rules as gazetted.
"However, there might be other grid connected PV solar installations within Windhoek's electricity network that are not yet registered with the city," he said.
"As a result, those installations may not be fully compliant with the requirements of net metering rules as they are not inspected and will not be considered during the implementation," Kahimise added.
To this end, the municipality therefore requested all customers with unregistered PV solar installations to register those installations through their respective system installers, further stressing that the registration would immediately take place at the Electricity Department at the office of the chief technical inspector during weekdays until May 30.
"All prospective customers wishing to install grid connected photovoltaic solar installations are encouraged to have the installations registered with the City, and the registration is free of charge," Kahimise urged.
Chairperson of the Electricity Control Board (ECB) Gottlied Hinda reports in the Government Gazette No. 417 of 2016 that the net metering rules will be regulated under section 3(4)(f) of the Electricity Act, 2007 (Act No. 4 of 2007) the Electricity Control Board, with the prior approval of the Minister.
The Government Gazette further noted the object of net metering includes the generation of additional power into the national grid, reducing the investment requirements of licensees and conventional independent power producers, to allow customer-generators to reduce their imports from distribution networks through generating for own consumption and to allow customer-generators to export to the distribution network up to the imports of the customer-generators from the distribution network.
Also stated as objects of the net metering are the promotion of sustainable renewable energy sources, small-scale investments, value addition and electricity market development, and to contribute towards reducing unemployment.
The Government Gazette stresses all distribution licensees must offer net metering to customer-generators subject to these rules and other applicable laws, rules and regulations of Namibia.
Net metering (or net energy metering, NEM) allows consumers who generate some or all of their own electricity to use that electricity anytime, instead of when it is generated. This is particularly important with wind and solar, which are non-dispatchable.
Research suggests monthly net metering allows consumers to use solar power generated during the day at night, or wind from a windy day later in the month. Annual net metering rolls over a net kilowatt credit to the following month, allowing solar power that was generated in July to be used in December, or wind power from March in August.
According to online sources, net metering policies can vary significantly by country and by state or province: if net metering is available, if and how long banked credits can be retained, and how much the credits are worth (retail/wholesale). Most net metering laws are said to involve monthly rollover of kWh credits, a small monthly connection fee, require monthly payment of deficits (i.e. normal electric bill), and annual settlement of any residual credit. Unlike a feed-in tariff (FIT), which requires two meters, net metering uses a single, bi-directional meter and can measure current flowing in two directions. Net metering can be implemented solely as an accounting procedure, and requires no special metering, or even any prior arrangement or notification.
In short, net metering is an enabling policy designed to foster private investment in renewable energy.