According to information from the comparison portals Check24 and Verivox, the electricity prices in the basic tariff have climbed to a new historical high. At 33.77 cents per kilowatt hour, electricity at the base rate is more expensive than ever before. More than half of the price consists of government-prescribed taxes and levies.
Compared to January last year, the electricity costs have risen by around four percent, reports Verivox: "A three-person household with an annual consumption of 4000 kilowatt hours has higher electricity costs of around 50 euros per year."
At first glance, it is a surprising Increase in consumer prices especially when considering that electricity consumption of the economy fell sharply in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. Declining demand put the wholesale price on the European Energy Exchange (EEX) under heavy pressure.
But this relief has not reached many households. On the contrary: "When it comes to electricity prices, Germany is still the world leader," says Thorsten Storck, energy expert at Verivox.
The subsidy program for promoting green electricity producers is partly responsible for this. According to the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), they are entitled to a fixed remuneration for green electricity, regardless of the actual value of the kilowatt hours. If the value of the electricity on the energy exchange falls, the higher compensation payments still must be made to the green electricity producers. For the consumer, whose electricity demand tends to increase during the lockdown for a home office, the cost per kilowatt hour remains the same.
With a green electricity share of around 45 percent, the sums involved are considerable. Last year, the network operators had to pay out the record sum of 30.8 billion euros to the green electricity producers to compensate them for the drop in electricity prices on the exchange. The sum is added to the bill of all consumers as the "EEG surcharge". Overall, the cost of the green electricity subsidy rose by a further 6.4 billion euros over the course of a year, from around 24 billion euros most recently.
Due to the corona-related drop in electricity prices on the exchange, the EEG surcharge would have jumped suddenly from 6.75 to around 9.6 cents per kilowatt this year. But the federal government has capped the surcharge to 6.5 cents - also in order not to make green electricity too unattractive in terms of price for use in transport. While the electricity consumer therefore spends less in the EEG surcharge, he pays more as a tax citizen: A total of eleven billion euros of the green electricity subsidies will be paid directly from federal tax revenue for the first time this year and next.
The EEG surcharge is therefore partly responsible for the current level of electricity prices, but no longer for the recent increase. The amount of the EEG surcharge should also decrease further in the coming years because more and more systems are coming to the end of their 20-year funding period and the funding costs for new wind and solar systems are significantly lower. Since 2018, project planners of green electricity systems have to apply for building licenses in an auction process. This has helped to drastically reduced the amount of new subsidies under the EEG.
Rather, the new cost driver on consumers' electricity bills is network charges. In the course of the energy transition, network operators have to build reserve power plants and keep them operational, compensate market participants for line bottlenecks and erect thousands of kilometers of extra-high voltage lines. The West German electricity network operator Amprion has just doubled its investment volume for the next ten years to 24 billion euros. "The increased network usage charges and the increase in value added tax have led to this noticeable burden," says Lasse Schmid, Managing Director Energy at Check24: "The minimal reduction in the EEG surcharge cannot compensate for that."
Last year, an analysis by Verivox showed that Germans pay by far the highest electricity prices in the world. While in Germany the average bill was 32 cents per kilowatt hour, the international average was 12.22 cents. Little has changed in these conditions in the past few months.
In other industrialized countries, too, electricity is sometimes significantly cheaper than in Germany, reports Verivox, referring to calculations by the service provider Global Petrol Prices and market data from the World Bank. A kilowatt hour in the USA costs half on average at around 13 cents.
Translation using Google Translate