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Why energy prices worry rural Danes more than those in cities

One in three residents in rural parts of Denmark is very concerned about increasing energy prices, a larger proportion than in cities, a recent poll has found.

Why energy prices worry rural Danes more than those in cities
A poll has found people in rural Denmark to be more concerned about high energy prices than their city counterparts. File photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Around a third of people in rural areas of Denmark say they are highly concerned about escalating energy costs compared to one in four in cities, broadcaster DR reports based on a recent poll.

The poll was conducted by institute Epinion on behalf of the Danish Agriculture & Food Council (Landbrug og Fødevarer) and the National Council for Rural Districts (Landdistrikternes Fællesråd).

In rural municipalities, 33 percent said they were “to a very high degree” concerned about increasing energy prices. In major cities, 25 percent gave that response.

A similar split is seen for those who said they were concerned “to a high degree” (rather than “very high”) about the issue. Here, 34 percent in rural areas selected the option compared to 27 percent in cities.

972 people took part in the survey.

There may be several reasons for heightened concern over expensive gas, electricity and fuel in rural parts of Denmark.

These include a higher likelihood of needing to drive to essential places like supermarkets and schools if they are not within walking distance, with public transport coverage less comprehensive.

Rural housing may also not be on a district heating network and will therefore rely on individual gas heaters, which are most severely affected by high energy prices.

In addition to these factors, a larger proportion of the rural population is at retirement age and therefore also has reduced flexibility on household income.

People who live in the countryside generally have fewer options at their disposal if they want to take steps to reduce energy costs, Steffen Damgaard, chairperson with Landdistrikternes Fællesråd, said in comments to DR.

“In a larger city there is district heating, which is not as price-sensitive. At the same time you have public transport which is always operating. So there are some extra concerns you can easily have in the countryside when a crisis comes knocking at the door,” he said.

Earlier this week, regional authorities said that some regional bus services could face cancellation without support from the central government. Declining passenger numbers and high fuels costs mean the regional buses are far exceeding their budgets. Potential bus closures could also have a skewed impact in rural areas.

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COST OF LIVING

At what time of the day is electricity cheapest in Denmark?

The electricity rate for customers in Denmark may vary hour-to-hour due to several factors and can fall way below the average price. So when is it cheapest?

At what time of the day is electricity cheapest in Denmark?

The price of electricity could defy the current era of soaring energy costs and fall to around 0 kroner (before transport and taxes are applied) for a short period around 2pm on Wednesday.

The electricity price per kilowatt hour could fall to zero on October 5th because of windy weather across Europe, which will result in huge electricity production from both on- and offshore wind turbines, broadcaster DR reports.

Combined with solar energy, which doesn’t factor in when electricity prices fall at night but does in the afternoon, this will force the market price of electricity close to zero, according to the report.

Additionally, heavy rain in Norway and Sweden, both of which have large hydropower production, can also help reduce the price of electricity in Denmark.

Before you connect everything to the grid at 2pm, keep in mind that electricity won’t be completely free to consumers. Transport costs and taxes of around 1.40 kroner still apply, DR notes.

The cost of electricity will nevertheless be low throughout Wednesday afternoon.

That sounds unexpected at a time when electricity costs this winter are expected to be far higher than they were in 2021 and the government has announced measures to help households pay bills. Cities are introducing their own saving measures to reduce electricity use.

“We actually expect [low daytime rates on Wednesday] to persist for a while. At the moment it looks like there will be wind until the weekend and we anticipate a lot of rain will fall,” Jack Kristensen, functions manager with Denmark’s largest energy company Andel Energi, told news wire Ritzau.

“It is predictably the hours where there’s not much consumption that it will be cheapest,” he said.

“Preceding days have been much higher in price,” he said.

Kristensen said he predicted hourly prices on Wednesday of 3 øre (0.03 kroner) per kilowatt hour from 1pm-2pm, followed by 0.2 øre (0.002 kroner) per kilowatt hour from 2pm-3pm.

The most expensive times of day – when people are waking up and around dinner time – have recently seen prices at around 1.10-1.20 kroner per kilowatt hour, Kristensen told Ritzau.

Taxes and transport costs should be added to these figures to get the overall price. In August, the total price of electricity per kilowatt hour hit a peak of 9.47 kroner on August 30th, according to data reported by DR.

People searching for electricity savings should also keep in mind that the rate falls at night.

Because drops in the hourly electricity price caused by increased wind production are highly dependent on weather conditions, they are not easy to predict.

However, apps can be used to monitor electricity prices. These include the ‘Min strøm’ app, which has been downloaded by tens of thousands of people in Denmark. Popular alternatives are the ‘Elpriser’ and ‘Andel Energi’ apps.

Lower nighttime prices can be taken advantage of by setting timers on thirsty appliances like dishwashers and tumble dryers and running them at night.

The autumn could bring about a general fall in Danish electricity prices compared to August and September because of windier weather, according to an industry analyst who spoke to DR.

“With robustly windy weather over Denmark, Sweden and Germany, we and our neighbours will be able to produce lots of cheap electricity and we will have hours with very low electricity prices during the course of the autumn,” said Kristian Rune Poulsen, senior consultant with industry interest organisation Green Power Denmark, in comments to the broadcaster.

High levels of sustainable energy production make electricity prices less dependent on gas prices because less gas is needed to produce the electricity Denmark needs.

The war in Ukraine is a major factor causing gas prices to go up, also affecting the electricity price.

READ ALSO: How people in Denmark are changing their energy use to keep bills down

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