Solar for city houses mandatoryAll public, commercial and institutional buildings in urban areas of the country will now be required to generate a quarter of their electricity requirement by themselves using solar system
All public, commercial and institutional buildings in urban areas of the country will now be required to generate a quarter of their electricity requirement by themselves using solar system, according to a new government regulation. The regulation also applies to private houses with roofs larger than 2,500 square feet in area in metropolitan and sub-metropolitan cities.
The Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development on Tuesday instructed all 75 district development committees and 217 municipalities to ensure that all buildings comply with the regulation. For those planning to build new houses, the ministry has directed the concerned authorities to issue building permits only after making sure the new energy requirement is fulfilled.
The ministry issued the regulation in a bid to address the electricity crisis in country, officials said.
Purna Chandra Bhattarai, the ministry’s joint secretary, said all public, commercial and institutional buildings will be required to install solar system to generate 25 percent of their total energy requirement or 1,500 watts. Private houses built on plots larger than 10 annas (3422.5 sq ft) with roofs larger than 2,500 sq ft will also have to follow the regulation.
Due to underdeveloped hydroelectricity infrastructure in the country, Nepalis have been living through long hours of power cuts throughout the year.
According to Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), peak power demand in the country is about 1,300MW, with 585MW load shedding.
The NEA-run hydropower projects supply around 360MW, independent power producers contribute around 125MW and around 225MW is imported from India.
The latest decision comes after extensive homework from the ministry and Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC). On November 30, a meeting convened by the ministry had decided to begin energy generation from solar panels. To that end, it had directed the APEC to come up with a concrete plan for the project to address the energy crisis.
The government had brought a similar plan but on a voluntary basis last year with subsidies in solar installation costs as incentive. The scheme, however, failed to generate substantial enthusiasm among the public.
Buildings which have already received construction permits from respective municipalities but are yet to receive building completion certificates, which are granted if the said house is made as per approved design, are also bound by the new requirement.
Similarly, the ministry has directed local bodies to extend the regulation to already-built houses with technical support from the AEPC.
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. There is also a concessional loan at the interest rate of 2.25 percent without collateral for the same.
In the market, medium-range solar panels with capacity of generating 120W to 150W electricity are priced between Rs45,000 and Rs60,000.
For commercial purposes (solar system 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.
According to Gopi Krishna Khanal, chief of Municipality and Environment Management Division at the ministry, the programme will be gradually taken to all houses in all municipalities and VDCs across the country. “Solar stations have to be incorporated in designs and drawings of buildings before they get construction permit from the local bodies,” he said.
The regulation, however, spares houses which receive sunshine for less than five hours a day. Similarly, small-sized private houses will be required to generate at least 200W of electricity depending on the size of the plot and number of storeys.
There are still some challenges while implementing the new policy. For instance, Rudra Singh Tamang, chief and executive officer of Kathmandu Metropolitan City, said most homeowners do not come to receive house completion certificates.
“This is an unfunded mandatory policy so it will not succeed unless accepted by the public,” he said.