Net Metering. A simple mechanism for renewables support, still not working in Ukraine.

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As of 2019, more than 70 countries have used net metering to foster the development of renewable energy.

This is a relatively simple legislative tool, which is essentially a mechanism for crediting excess energy that the prosumer discharges into the grid, within the current or future accounting periods - a month or a year. 

Roughly it is similar to the Ukrainian green tariff for private households. Each month the owner of a house with a solar station receives a receipt stating the amount of energy consumed, the amount of energy discharged into the grid, and the difference between these figures. If you have produced more - the energy company pays you this amount at a green tariff rate. If consumption is higher - you pay for the difference at the usual consumer rate.

In the net metering system, the mechanics of the process are quite similar, although you do not sell energy at a green rate. If the generation is higher than consumption - you are credited with some kWhs for the next month. If on the contrary - you either pay for the difference, or use the credit from previous months, when your energy production was high.

For example, on the roof of my office center there is a solar station for my own consumption, without a green tariff. But my energy consumption and solar generation schedules do not coincide, so during the day I often produce excess electricity. While at night I have to buy energy from the grid. Today in Ukraine there are two ways out of the situation:

  1. Get a green tariff for rooftop solar, and sell the surplus to the grid. It is worth noting that this process is often too complicated and expensive compared to the benefits.
  2. Limit the power of the station with special equipment at times when my energy generation exceeds consumption. Free discharge of energy into the grid is not allowed. At the same time, I lose the potential of my solar plant. The kilowatt-hours I paid for when installing the panels are going nowhere.

In the net metering system, I could accumulate a positive kWh balance in the summer, when the solar plant's energy production far exceeds my needs. And later use this balance in the cold season, when consumption is higher than generation. With optimal solar capacity selection, I could completely cover my energy needs by using the mains as a large battery.

Potentially, net metering would allow for more optimal use of distributed solar energy, cost savings by the businesses, and reduction in the need to balance power grids.

But what does Ukraine lack to launch the mechanism? Let's dig into this issue...