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Good Source for International Energy Prices
Updated 27 October 2016
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If you're making a case for energy efficiency improvements to a non-technical decision maker, which statement is more effective:
"Equipment which is running 24x7 has a continuous demand of 50 kW"
"Equipment which is running 24x7 adds €65,000 to our annual electric bill"
This is why most energy analyses show use and savings opportunities in dollars, or euros, or yen. "50 kW" is meaningless to most people, but €65,000 is usually pretty significant.
The conversion from energy and demand units to costs is straightforward if you have utility bills for the facility, or know its tariff. But what do you do if this information is not available? We see this a lot at , where clients send us interval energy data from a wide variety of sources, usually without any price information. All we know is the facility location.
If the building is in the U.S., we use the Energy Information Administration (EIA) public domain database of retail energy prices. EIA provides historic actual and forecast retail electricity and natural gas prices broken out by state, month, and sector (residential, commercial, industrial). We'll cover this database (and it's wonderful API) in a future blog post.
But a lot of our clients are international, with facilities around the globe. Finding average retail energy prices is a hit or miss proposition for some countries. But we recently found an excellent source of this information.
International Energy Agency to the rescue!
Paris skyline You probably know of the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) ( for its work on global oil markets and international energy policy studies. IEA issues an annual "World Energy Outlook" report which is a must-read for large energy producers and government agencies.
The IEA Energy Data Centre collects energy statistics from around the world in support of these efforts. They include retail energy prices for 33 countries in North and South America, Europe, Middle East, Asia, and Australia/New Zealand. And this information is available on-line to anyone who needs the average price of electricity to commercial customers in, say, Ireland or Chile or Japan.
Price data can be downloaded from the "IEA Online Data Services" web site, It is updated quarterly, in both local currency and US$ per energy unit. Electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, and LPG prices are included. They are further broken out by sector - commercial or household. You can download total price, or exclude taxes.
Cash register The IEA online service is not free, but it is incredibly cheap. 1,000 prices cost €45 (about US$51 today). Since there are four prices per year, you can download about 250 years of data for just over US$50!
You pay for the 1,000 price package in advance, but you download only what you need, when you need it.
Show me the data!
Unfortunately there is no API, so the data has to be manually downloaded, as a CSV or Excel file. The format is very simple, you can see a sample here.
The prices are updated about 4 months after the end of a quarter, which is similar to the other sources we use, like EIA (how confusing - "EIA", "IEA", can't they use some different letters!).
Did we miss anything?
National average prices are just that, averages, and not as good as having actual bill or tariff information for a facility. But they are "better than nothing", and certainly better than just reporting energy units which few outside the EE field can understand.
Help wanted sign If you know of good sources of price information for specific countries, which are more detailed than the IEA averages, we would love to hear about them. Please let us know at
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