Govt introduces household solar system scheme

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    Dec 2, 2015- In a bid to offer respite to the energy-starved nation, the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development has decided to make it mandatory for all new buildings in urban areas to install solar system and start generating electricity from the scheme within six months from now.

    On Monday, the ministry decided that all new buildings in municipalities should have built-in facilities to generate at least a part of its electricity consumption by itself. Houses that do not oblige will be denied the building completion certificate, which is a document issued by local body if a building is constructed as per regulations and it is required for ownership transfer.

    According to the MoFALD, new institutional, government and commercial building should generate 25 percent of its total energy requirement or 1,500 watts, whichever is higher. Similarly, private houses should generate at least 500W.

    “In the initial phase, we have planned to introduce this system in public buildings and then gradually move to others,” said Mukesh Ghimire, senior officer for solar energy at the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC). “After that, this will be mandatory for existing houses as well.”

    A meeting chaired by Assistant Minister Biraj Bahadur Bista on Monday decided that they will begin energy generation from solar roof panels within the next six months. The meeting also decided to come up with concrete plan for the project within seven days and ask the AEPC to submit a detailed study report within two months. Shortage of energy is one of the biggest problems facing Nepal. Due to underdeveloped hydroelectricity infrastructure in the country, Nepalis have to live through long hours of power cuts throughout the year. Likewise, complete dependence on India for fossil fuel imports means that supply is vulnerable to diplomatic shocks. Ghimire said the new plan goes a long way in addressing the problem caused by energy scarcity in the country.

    “If even 100,000 houses are involved in the solar roof project, with each house producing 500W, it translates into 50 megawatts of electricity,” Ghimire said. “Even with this conservative estimate, you can see for yourself how far load shedding can be tackled.”

    According to the Nepal Electricity Authority, peak power demand in the country is about 1,300MW, with 585 MW load shedding. NEA’s own hydropower projects supply around 360MW, independent power producers contribute around 125MW and around 225 MW is imported from India.

    To encourage households to opt for solar power, the government has been providing several types of subsidies. There is a cash subsidy of Rs 15,000 for installing a solar system with the capacity of 100W to 1,500W. Likewise, the government also provides concessional loan at the interest rate of 2.25 percent without collateral for the same. For commercial purposes or for solar systems with more than 1,500W capacity, the government provides concessional loan at 4.5 percent interest rate. As per the scheme, the government also offers the organisation to deduct 50 percent depreciation on the cost of the solar system, resulting in lower income tax at the end. In the market, medium-range solar panels with capacity of generating 120W to 150W electricity are priced between Rs45,000 and Rs60,000. The government has left it to local municipalities to decide for themselves how it will accumulate financial resources for making the solar roof plan comprehensive.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post