Volker Quaschning just posted an article at the Greenpeace blog (in German) where he says that electricity is too cheap in Germany for private consumers.
He mentions that the average consumer uses 1.700 kWh a year, which works out to 440 euros at 26 cent a kWh. And that is much less than people pay for their handy. And most people wouldn’t even kn0w how much they pay for electricity.
He also notes that higher electricity prices help saving energy.
I agree with his analysis. And I have a couple of points to add.
For one, the ecotax introduced in 1999 wanted electricity prices to go up, so as to give an incentive to use less. The basic idea is still as correct as it was in 1999.
Next, 1.700 kWh per year is about 4.66 kWh a day. That’s the equivalent of employing five slaves (in times when slavery was legal) and having them work treadmills eight hours a day. Paying only around one euro for that massive amount of energy is still ridiculously cheap.
Another bright side of rising electricity prices is that it will increase the difference between buying electricity from the grid and making your own. Already it is cheaper to get your electricity from your own solar panels than from the grid in Germany. If that difference increases, more people will buy solar to save on their electricity bill, even once the feed-in tariff for solar runs out in a couple of years (it has a final ceiling of 52 GW now).
If more and more people stop buying from the grid and the government persists in its policy of letting most of industry off the hook, there will be less and less shoulders to distribute the burden of the feed-in tariff. That will make it more expensive, even with much lower tariffs in the future, which in turn will drive even more people into getting their own solar panels.
Quaschning says that the owners of conventional power plants try to use the cost talking point to slow down solar and wind. He is right.
However, that talking point actually cuts both ways. If the big German utilities overdo it with their “our electricity is expensive” campaign, more citizens might get a clue from that and opt out from their services altogether.