Why is Electricity more expensive in northern Germany?
March 2020

onsumers can often choose between hundreds of electricity tariffs differing in price and composition of sources. Also, looking at the different states in Germany, regional differences are visible (see fig.1). Hamburg is compared to Rheinland-Pfalz about 11% more expensive. With a yearly consumption of 2500kWh this leads to a difference of about 90 euros. In general, the states in the north east of Germany are more expensive.

Fig. 1 - Yearly mean cost per state with an electricity consumption of 2500kWh. The uncertainty is given by the standard error of mean (SEM).

One reason for regional differences are the so called grid fees (Netzentgelte) that have to be payed for by the consumer. These fees vary in Germany up to around 4 cents per kWh, which is 100 euros for 2500kWh1.

Reasons for varying fees are
Consumer density - The more people there are to share the grid fee, the cheaper it gets for the single consumer.
Age of the grid - The old nets are cheaper to run. In western Germany, more old electricity grids exist compared to the east. In the future, this might change when the power grid in the west will be modernized.
Renewable energies - The expansion of the grid as well as the integration of renewable energies are costly. Furthermore, these sources will often not be fed into the high-voltage power lines1. The lower the load on these power lines, the higher the cost per kWh.

The lower consumer/population density in the north east of Germany leads to a high amount of renewable power generated per consumer/capita (see fig.2 ). Over 7000kWh power are generated per capita in Brandenburg compared to 2400kWh in Rheinland-Pfalz.

Fig. 2 - Yearly amount of power generated from renewable sources per capita2,3.

The data has been crawled from the website Verivox during a university project in a group of four. Verivox is an online service which compares all electricity providers in Germany. For the web-crawling, the Selenium Python package has been used - the code is available on github.

1 - https://www.bundesnetzagentur.de/SharedDocs/FAQs/DE/Sachgebiete/Energie/Verbraucher/Energielexikon/Netzentgelt.html
2 - https://www.statistikportal.de/de/bevoelkerung/flaeche-und-bevoelkerung
3 - https://www.foederal-erneuerbar.de/uebersicht/bundeslaender/BW|BY|B|BB|HB|HH|HE|MV|NI|NRW|RLP|SL|SN|ST|SH|TH|D/kategorie/strom/auswahl/175-stromerzeugung_aus_e/#goto_175