The first country to embrace energy deregulation was the United Kingdom under Margaret Thatcher, which began to deregulate its electricity and natural gas industries in the late 1980's. Since then, 35 countries representing 44% of the world’s energy use have begun deregulating their energy sectors. The map below outlines all 35 countries that have begun deregulating their energy markets, the majority of which are in Europe.
In North America, there is a wide range of deregulation activity. In the late 1990's energy deregulation was being widely adopted by many states and heralded as the way to ensure savings for customers across the country. Unfortunately, mistakes were made in several markets, most notably California with the infamous Enron scandal. As a result of these issues, although some states fully adopted energy deregulation, other states have remained hesitant to deregulate.
This has resulted in North America having a wide spectrum of different levels of deregulation. Some states only allow large commercial customers to choose a different supplier, some allow all consumers to choose. Some only allow choice for natural gas, while others allow choice for both electricity and natural gas. Even more confusing, although natural gas deregulation is fairly similar across markets, most states have taken very different approaches to electricity deregulation. The map below gives a high-level look at which markets have begun to deregulate, a more detailed explanation of each market will be provided in future posts.
Similarly, the European Union has been working hard to create a large, unified energy market across the entire continent. The EU has made enormous investments in an effort to integrate its electricity and natural gas grids, with the continent currently being split into a number of energy regions. These investments have been successful in driving down energy prices for commercial and industrial consumers in many countries. Unfortunately, these savings have yet to be passed down to residential and small business customers.
The end goal of this project is to create a truly integrated energy system across Europe that allows all residents to benefit from reduced prices, and a more sustainable and manageable energy grid. Currently, the EU and other European countries are all moving towards energy deregulation to varying degrees. In most countries, all residential and commercial customers can look to source their electricity and natural gas from a variety of providers, but many exceptions remain. The map below gives a high-level look at which markets have begun to deregulate, a more detailed explanation of each market will be provided in future posts.
Australia and New Zealand have completely deregulated their markets. In these countries, all residential and commercial customers can source their electricity and natural gas from a variety of providers. Australia is often recognized as one of the most open and best run energy markets in the world, thanks to a significant level of competition between companies in the industry.
Japan has only recently begun to deregulate its energy market. Large businesses are able to source their electricity and natural gas from a variety of different companies, but most residential and small business consumers still have no alternatives. Recent rulings, however, are pushing the Japanese market to fully deregulate its market in the coming years.
Various other Asian countries, including South Korea and Singapore, are looking at the potential to deregulate their energy markets. Although they currently remain far from deregulation, the first tentative steps have been made.