Energy boost: The new solar policy, outlined by the Union power ministry, will come into effect from April 2024. Photo: Pixabay

Power tariffs to cost more at night-time peak hours, less during day-time “solar hours”

The government will cut tariffs during “solar hours” or daytime power use, but charge higher tariffs when electricity demand peaks at night, in a move to boost renewable energy amid rising power demand. The new policy, outlined by the Union power ministry, will come into effect from April 2024 for commercial and industrial consumers and a year later for most other consumers except those in the agricultural sector.

During so-called “solar hours”, tariffs will be 10-20% less than normal levels, while tariffs during peak night hours when air-conditioning use is cranked up after people come home from work will be 10-20% higher, Reuters reported. Power minister RK Singh said in a statement: ”Since solar power is cheaper, the tariff during the solar hours will be less,” adding that during non-solar hours, thermal and hydro power as well as gas-based capacity is used, which costs more than solar power.

World Bank snctions $1.5 bn to finance India’s clean energy expansion

The World Bank last week announced that it had approved financing worth $1.5 billion (around ₹12,600 crore) for the expansion of renewable energy, green hydrogen production and private finance stimulation. The ‘First Low-Carbon Energy Programmatic Development Policy Operation’ will support India in developing green hydrogen, the World Bank statement noted. “The financing required to implement India’s energy transition is such that public sector funding alone will not be sufficient. Building on recent successes, this operation will help stimulate private financing and other support by addressing viability funding gaps, reducing off-taker risks, boosting grid integration of renewables, and stimulating demand for renewable energy.”

The World Bank also put its weight behind the creation of a national carbon market, stating ““A national carbon market is essential to provide a level playing field between low-carbon energy and fossil fuels. This program will support policies for a national carbon credit trading scheme to launch a national carbon market.”

New PLI in the works for grid-scale battery storage?

India’s clean energy plans have long been scuttled by the issue of intermittency. The central government now is reportedly seeking to smooth this crinkle through a subsidy scheme. The outlay for the subsidy proposed by the power ministry is reported to be in the region of $2.63 billion up to 2030, and will be available to companies making battery cells in India. The report comes weeks after the possibility a new PLI scheme for grid-scale energy storage was floated by Power Minister R.K Singh during his address at a leadership event.

Thriving China market drives cost of off-shore wind projects in parity with coal: BNEF 

According to BloombergNEF (BNEF), the benchmark costs for onshore wind have decreased by 6% over the past year, while the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) for offshore wind has reached parity with coal, marking the lowest level since data collection began in 2009. 

The study attributed the reduction in costs to a thriving market in China, chasing a massive target of 160 GW of solar and wind energy capacity additions in 2023, up 13.5% from the actual installations in 2022. The costs of new-build offshore wind and storage project have fallen 2% and 12% respectively over the past six months, the analysis found.

The BNEF analysts said onshore wind and solar projects continue to be the most cost-effective technologies for electricity generation in countries that account for 82% of global electricity production, even with a 5% reduction in the cost of fossil fuel-fired projects in the last six months.

Globally, China offers the most affordable renewable power projects, with highly competitive LCOEs of $23/MWh for onshore wind farms, $50/MWh for offshore wind, and $31/MWh for fixed-axis solar farms in the first half of 2023, analysis found. Despite recent challenges, the long-term trend in the renewable energy sector indicates consistent declines in project costs. Over the past decade, LCOEs for utility-scale solar, onshore wind, and offshore wind have decreased by 58-74%, the BNEF said.

A study by BNEF found that wind and solar projects collectively supplied over 10% of the world’s electricity demand for the first time in 2021.

Industry emissions outpaced the record wind, solar power growth in 2022: Research

Record growth in wind and solar power has not been able to dent the greenhouse gas emissions by global industry, says the “statistical review of world energy” formerly produced by oil giant BP. The Guardian reported that emissions climbed 0.8% last year. Juliet Davenport, president of the Energy Institute, which led the research, told the Guardian: “We are still heading in the opposite direction to that required by the Paris agreement.” According to the report, solar generation climbed by 25% in 2022, while wind power output grew by 13.5% compared to 2021. 

However, the renewable energy boom was eclipsed by a modest rise in global energy consumption of 1.1% last year—compared to a 5.5% increase in 2021—which meant more oil and coal was burnt to meet demand, the report found.