Saudi Arabia’s Electricity & Cogeneration Regulatory Authority has approved the “Small-Scale Solar PV Systems Regulations”, a new net metering scheme for residential PV.
In a statement to pv magazine, the regulator said that the new rules were already approved by ECRA’s board of directors and are final. “They will come into force mid of next year giving enough time to the licensee to prepare systems and procedures for full implementation,” the authority said.
The new rules will apply to PV systems not exceeding 1 MW, while allocatable capacity for every electricity department will be capped at 5 MW. Projects with a power range of 1 MW to 5 MW, however, are not precluded “where there are alternative mechanisms prepared by the principle buyer for such projects,” the ECRA said in the document.
Distribution service providers will have to sign contracts with net metering customers on a first come first-served basis. Projects submitted by residential and commercial customers, as well as those proposed by government entities and agricultural categories of consumers will be prioritized. Only projects with the required municipal permits will be accepted.
Saudi Arabia launched a new energy master plan intended to bring more solar into its electricity mix in January. Since then, however, only large-scale solar projects were tendered in an auction that was launched in April. More than 120 companies submitted statements of qualification for round one for 300 MW of solar PV commissioned as part of the first round of Saudi Arabia’s National Renewable Energy Program (NREP), according to Saudi Renewable Energy Development Office (REPDO).
In terms of the size of potential renewable energy capacity, Saudi Arabia’s energy transformation could be considerable. The country’s peak load demand is growing rapidly, at about 8% a year, and last year it reached 62.5 GW.