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Overhaul of electricity 'time tariffs'? Solar power changes the debate
Friday, June 23, 2023 @ 7:53 AM

ELECTRICITY could become cheaper to use at more convenient hours in a hypothetical about-turn for household bills – and that's thanks to solar power.

Since June 2021, 'peak', 'trough' and 'off-peak' time slots were introduced by Spain's main power board Iberdrola – and sparked numerous neighbour disputes.

Electricity costs less to produce when the sun's out, but that's when consumers pay peak rates – at least, at the moment (photo: EFE)

'Off-peak' or 'flat-rate' slots were to cost the same as all power use around the clock had been until then, with the cheapest and most expensive times attracting a price difference of up to 95%.

Lowest-cost electricity is between midnight and 07.59 in the morning, at weekends, and on national holidays, whilst the times to avoid are from 10.00 to 14.00 or 18.00 to 22.00 from Monday to Friday inclusive.

At a time when energy bills were starting to climb, residents began putting their washing machines on overnight in a bid to make ends meet, financially – and falling foul of their neighbours for disturbing their sleep.

Arguments about this between residents in adjoining properties and apartment blocks appear to have died down – perhaps because the population has got used to sleeping through a neighbour's washing machine, or has been forced to put their own on overnight, too, or because of newer appliance models being generally quieter.

Lowest-cost off-peak electricity time has caused numerous neighbour disputes – residents have to use their appliances overnight to save money, disrupting each others' sleep (photo: Pikwizard)

On the whole, though, the new pricing structure has been inconvenient for many reasons: Cooking dinner in the evening has to be done at peak time, unless you are willing to eat very late - even allowing for the fact that Spanish people tend not to sit down to their last meal of the day until at least 21.00.

All this could be set to change, though – and the sun is single-handedly responsible.


Early afternoon is when energy production costs fall, argues CNMC

The National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC) says the 'massive invasion of solar power' as a source of the mains electricity supply means the hottest parts of the day automatically generate the most energy.

Even when mornings and evenings are still chilly, most of Spain has a strong midday sun – in many parts of the country, temperatures similar to high summer can strike at lunchtime even in deep winter, with the remainder of the day and night being freezing cold.

This means the cost of energy production is at its lowest between noon and 16.00, the CNMC says, and is calling for this slot to be the cheapest for bill-payers.


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