Eleven out of 28 Caribbean countries have cheaper electricity than the Virgin Islands, according to a study released last month by United Kingdom telecommunications provider Cable.co.uk. (Photo: KEN SILVA)

Recent studies of global broadband and mobile data pricing from United Kingdom-based telecommunications provider Cable.co.uk haven’t turned out well for the Virgin Islands, which has consistently shown to have some of the highest prices in the world for those services.

However, when it comes to electricity, the VI ranks near the middle of the pack regionally.

Just 11 out of 28 Caribbean countries have cheaper electricity than the VI, according to a study released last month from the company.

But the region as a whole is far behind most of the world, and the VI ultimately ranked 175 out of the 230 countries analysed in the study.

“The Caribbean consists of island nations where electricity generation tends to be more difficult,” the study noted.

The study found that the average cost of electricity in the VI is $0.225 per kilowatt-hour, with the territory’s lowest cost at $0.1675 per kWh and its highest at $0.24.

The average price in the Caribbean is $0.237.

Most Caribbean nations are in the more expensive half of the study results. Curaçao ranked as most expensive in the Caribbean with an average of $0.419 per kWh, while electricity per kWH in Puerto Rico averages $0.049.

The next-cheapest countries and territories are Trinidad and Tobago, Guadeloupe, Cayman Islands, St. Martin, St Barthélemy, the Caribbean Netherlands, Martinique, Aruba and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Global high, low

However, the VI still pays 32 times more than Libya, where consumers pay just $0.007 per kWh. But it doesn’t come close to the high prices in the Solomon Islands, a chain in the Pacific Ocean, which is the costliest in the world with an average price of $0.692 per kWh.

“The Caribbean consists of island nations where electricity generation tends to be more difficult,” the study’s authors wrote. “Clusters of more expensive countries in which to buy electricity tended to be in small island nations where electricity is harder to generate and/or there are no large-scale power stations.”

Researchers at Cable.co.uk worked for six months to complete an analysis of 3,883 energy tariffs around the world in order to measure the price of electricity in 230 countries.

The study noted that the most expensive countries on the list were all far-flung island nations. After the Solomon Islands, the five most expensive countries in terms of the average cost of one kWh were St. Helena ($0.612), Vanuatu ($0.591), the Cook Islands ($0.523) and Micronesia ($0.484).

‘Striking and obvious’

The study called the similarities between these five archipelagoes “both striking and obvious.” Four of five are in Oceania, and all five are island nations.

“Oceania is one of the most expensive regions in the world for electricity, while island nations also tend to be among the most expensive,” the study’s authors wrote.

After Libya, the five cheapest countries in terms of the average cost of one kWh were Angola ($0.013), Sudan ($0.014), Kyrgyzstan ($0.017), and Zimbabwe ($0.021).

“Conversely to the most expensive, none of these countries is an island, and three of the five are located in sub-Saharan Africa,” the study authors wrote. “The cheapest, Libya, is in Northern Africa, with the only non-African country being Kyrgyzstan.”

According to the study, the cheapest places in the world to buy electricity tend to be countries where either oil and gas prices are very cheap (i.e. countries which produce fossil fuels on a large scale), or where household electricity usage is very small and therefore tends not to require a lot of expensive infrastructure.

Around the world

The United States proved to be the cheapest country in North America, at $0.109 per kWh, followed by Canada ($0.124) and Greenland ($0.250). Oceania is the most expensive region in the world, averaging $0.303.

Meanwhile sub-Saharan Africa has four of the ten cheapest countries in the world and three of the ten most expensive.

Former Soviet countries are the cheapest on average regionally, with all 10 countries in the region in the top 70 cheapest in the world, three of them in the top 10.

The study pointed out that the UK, at $0.251 per kWh, pays the most for electricity in Western Europe and comes 190th in the world for cheap electricity.

“Almost every European nation is cheaper. Most African nations? Cheaper. There are even island nations where energy production is especially difficult that charge less than we are charged in the UK,” research analyst Dan Howdle said in a press release announcing the study results.