Economics

Cost Of Electricity By Country

Comparison of average electricity prices in select countries.

In this article, we take a look at electricity prices within the leading economies from around the globe in the 2014 calendar year. Within the United States, electricity costs stood firm at $0.10 per kilowatt hour, while in the United Kingdom the average cost were much higher, at an elevated $0.15 per kilowatt hour. South Africa and the northern nations of Finland, Canada, and Sweden, meanwhile, all had rates of less than at $0.09 per kilowatt hour.

Italy Has The Highest Electricity Prices

During the year 2014, it was Italy that stood atop the list of countries where citizens have to pay the most money for electrical power utilities. Italian consumers found themselves having to pay an astounding $0.21 per kilowatt hour, which was increased due to the addition of a tax. According to reports, the high Italian power prices are due in part to the selection of fuels that are utilized for the generation of electricity. The country does not possess any nuclear plants because it is located within an area that is seismically active, so atomic power has become a thing of the past. Italian nuclear plants were effectively shut down following a late 1980’s referendum that resulted from fears following the historic explosion at the Chernobyl plant. This devastating event demonstrated to all of Europe’s citizens just how dangerous nuclear power can be.

As a result of the referendum, the country of Italy began generating its electricity via a combination of coal, petroleum products, renewable energy as well as natural gas. Although possessing one of Europe’s largest proven natural gas reserves, Italy produces very little natural gas. This leaves the country highly dependent upon imports. The core countries sourcing the bulk of Italian natural gas imports include Libya, Russia, and Algeria. Within the near future, the country may be forced to move in the direction of producing more of its electricity from solar energy, geothermal power and/or hydropower due to the political instability that is occurring within its primary importing countries and consumer frustration with energy prices. In the calendar year 2013, the cumulative solar photovoltaic capacity for Italy reached 17.6 gigawatts, which made the Mediterranean country the third largest market in regards to solar PV power.

Germany Renewable Energy Program Drives Up Costs

Germany comes in as a close second, with electricity prices of $0.19 per kilowatt hour. Due to this, it has been reported that the country has developed a program for increasing the contribution of electricity sourced from renewable sources to upwards of 80% by the calendar year 2050. During the first quarter of 2014, the country produced a record-setting 27% of its electricity via renewable sources, a result of both favorable weather and an increased capacity to utilize renewable energy within the country.

There are ramifications involved in Germany’s contemporary renewable energy program, including an instable electric grid, the burden being placed upon German households by increased costs for electricity, and the need for secure back-up power that is affordable and reliable. Currently, utility companies within the country are receiving payments from the grid as a measure of stabilizing a network that has been disrupted due to surges and falls in contributions from solar and wind power sources. Coal is being utilized in a heftier manner in order to back-up the renewable technologies (and their intermittent nature) while delivering a reliable base load of power, although at the risk of increasing emissions of carbon dioxide. The result has been German residents having to pay feed-in-tariffs in addition to high utility costs as a measure of subsidizing the renewable energy technologies.

Electricity In Other Countries

Other countries have been more successful in garnering electrical power via renewable options, allowing prices that are more budget-friendly than those seen in Italy and Germany. Electricity rates across 18 developed country can be seen illustrated within the table below. Note that electricity rates in our cheapest country, Sweden, are only 37% of those seen in Italy at the other far end of the spectrum.

Cost Of Electricity By Country

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RankCountryU.S. dollar cents per kilowatt hour
1Italy21.01
2Germany19.21
3UK15.40
4Portugal13.84
5Spain13.64
6Belgium12.68
7Slovakia12.55
8France10.74
9Czech Republic10.47
10Poland10.46
11Austria10.44
12Netherlands10.08
13U.S.10.00
14Australia9.71
15South Africa8.97
16Finland8.59
17Canada8.11
18Sweden7.87

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