Energy borders

OECD Observer

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The light from the reading lamp in your living room demonstrates home delivery at its most convenient – but did you know that the electricity to power the lamp may have come from another country? Most of the time we do not even think about the complex networks that keep the lights and heating going in a cold snap or the air-conditioning in a heat wave. It takes an event such as the massive power blackout that affected more than 50 million people in the US and Canada in August to remind us.

Yet, trade in electricity is big business, with OECD countries importing a total of 347 terawatt hours (TWh) and exporting 336 TWh in 2002, the latest issue of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Electricity Information found. European OECD countries and North America do a substantial amount of electricity trading, and it is on the rise. Electricity imports in North America grew by 2.7% between 1990 and 2001, while those in OECD Europe rose 3%, although this was slower than the average growth rates of 4.5% for North America and 6.9% in Europe between 1973 and 1990.

And if OECD countries are net importers of electricity, to the tune of 11 TWh in 2002, non-OECD countries were net exporters, with 4.4 TWh. But non- OECD countries overall trade less electricity than the OECD, with exports of 158.3 TWh and imports of 153.9 TWh in 2002.

Originally published ©OECD Observer No 239, September 2003

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.6% Q4 2017 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.2% Jan 2018 annual
Trade: +2.7% exp, +3.0% imp, Q4 2017
Unemployment: 5.5% Jan 2018
Last update: 12 Mar 2018


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