World Voltages

World Voltages - A Global Overview

World VoltagesToday in the world it is estimated that one in five people (that is a staggering 1.3 billion people) still have no access to electricity and where access is available national power generation companies are struggling to keep up with the ever rising demand of consumers and as a result the reliability and quality of the power being delivered is becoming a growing problem.

Historically the problem has been widely held to be an issue of the less developed countries, but in recent years even in Europe and North America, with a lack of general investment in new generation capacity and the failure to replace decommissioned fossil fuel and nuclear power stations, existing supply networks have been found to be struggling to keep up with the demand of the new power hungry digital age and many consumers are now witnessing a marked general deterioration in the availability and quality of power they receive.

With the International Energy Agency in their 2013 World Energy Outlook projecting that the global demand for electricity will rise by more than two thirds between 2011 and 2035, the anticipated investment needed in generation, transmission and distribution networks to satisfy this perceived increased demand is a huge $17 trillion. Attracting this amount of investment is a monumental undertaking in its own right and requires not only universal government participation, but also the involvement of private sector investors.

While there may be the political will for such large investment, many commentators believe in less developed countries, where the need is greatest, it will be virtually impossible in the time frame to create the right liberal economic business environment to attract the much need private investors. 

As a result it can be concluded that for the foreseeable future the problems with the reliability and quality of mains power throughout the world will be a continuing and growing issue, limiting the potential of economic growth - especially in less developed countries.


The Ashley-Edison View

Our Man ReportsAt Ashley-Edison we specialise in assisting organisations through-out the world in addressing reliability and quality problems with their utility mains voltage.  Our power engineers are probably the most experienced you will find in the industry, boasting over 150 years of  know-how in combating power supply irregularities and delivering affordable and dependable Voltage Stabilisation and Power Line Conditioning solutions.

In this section of our Website we detail the utility mains supply voltages to be found in the various countries of the world (listed by regions in the Tabs above) and we attempt to give you some idea as to the state of the relevant local market and a brief insight, based on our own operational experiences in the country, into the quality of the supply that you can reasonably expected to witness – not only today, but also tomorrow! 


Your ViewShare your Views and Experiences

Please note every reasonable effort is made to ensure that the information provided in the section of the site is accurate. No guarantees for the accuracy of the information is made and we encourage your input and feedback in the comments section at the bottom of each countries listing so we are able to keep the content updated and actual, on the ground, consumer experiences can be shared with others.

Electricity in Africa - Overview

Electricity in AfricaOver a hundred years after the commercial light bulb was invented by Thomas Edison, nearly 600 million people in Africa are still deprived access to basic electric power.

While northern Africa is virtually entirely electrified (excluding Sudan), more than two thirds of the population in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity, with that number rising to more than 85 percent in more rural areas.

Improving the availability and quality of electrical power in the sub-Saharan region is widely held as one of the most pressing challenges for delivering sustainable economic growth, and through this alleviating poverty, in the region.

Africa currently has 147 Gigawatt of installed capacity, with average per capita electricity consumption in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) standing at just 153 kWh per annum.  Electricity blackouts occur on a daily basis in 30 out of 48 of the Sub-Saharan countries and it is estimated that blackouts and poor power quality costs more than 5% of GDP in Malawi, Uganda and South Africa, and 1 to 5% in Senegal, Kenya and Tanzania. Faced with unreliable power, people and enterprises in the region often have to rely on expensive off-grid diesel power generation to meet their electricity needs. It is calculated that 50% of the power generation capacity in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Mauritania, and 17% in West Africa is derived from off-grid resources.

In the coming decades it is predicted that the population of Africa will grow faster than the global average, per capita energy use will increase and the energy mix will have to transition to modern fuels. These three factors will put tremendous pressure on Africa’s already struggling energy sector. Recent regional studies suggests that the continent will need to add around 250 Gigawatt of capacity over the next 15 or so years to meet anticipated demand.

With the region having significant potential to develop clean, geothermal, hydro, wind, and solar energy, the magnitude of the investment required in generation capacity and transmission infrastructure is colossal Power Africa - US Initiativeand can only really be achieved by local governments attracting private investment for public-private power generation partnerships. While the recent “Power Africa initiative”, announced by US President Obama in June 2013, is designed to encourage private investment in regional generation capacity, many commentators question whether the regional business environments and policy frameworks are sufficiently robust to attract and maintain the level of private investment essential for delivering by 2030 the additionally required 250 Gigawatt of generation capacity.

Moving forward the challenges faced in the African power sector are huge. With frequent outages, regular brown-outs, low electricity connections and ever rising electricity tariffs, the quality and availability of power is today, and likely to be for the foreseeable future, one of the biggest limiting factors to sustained economic growth and future prosperity in the region.

Electricity in Africa


Click on the relevant country listed below to learn more about the voltage available and the state of the supply in the region.

This Section of the Website is currently under Update

Northern Africa

-   Algeria
-   Egypt
-   Libya
-   Morroco
-   Sahrawa
-   Sudan
-   South Sudan
-   Tunisia

Western Africa

-   Benin 
-   Burkina Faso
-   Cape Verde
-   Gambia
-   Ghana
-   Guinea
-   Guinea-Bissau
-   Ivory Coast
-   Liberia
-   Mali
-   Mauritania
-   Niger
-   Nigeria
-   Senegal
-   Sierra Leone 
-   Togo

Central Africa

-   Angola
-   Cameroon
-   Central African Rep
-   Chad
-   Congo DRC
-   Republic of the Congo
-   Equatorial Guinea
-   Gabon
-   São Tomé & Príncipe

Eastern Africa

-   Burundi
-   Comoros
-   Djibouti
-   Eritrea
-   Ethiopia
-   Kenya
-   Madagascar
-   Malawi
-   Mauritius
-   Mayotte
-   Mozambique
-   Réunion Island
-   Rwanda
-   Seychelles
-   Somalia
-   Tanzania
-   Uganda
-   Zambia

Southern Africa

-   Botswana
-   Lesotho
-   Namibia
-   South Africa
-   Swaziland
-   Zimbabwe

Every reasonable effort is made to ensure that the information provided above is accurate. No guarantees for the accuracy of the information is made.

Electricity in Europe - Overview

Elektrownia BelchatowIn general current electricity demand across the whole of Europe, is basically stagnant. The stagnation is partially due to the drive in recent times for greater energy efficiency and probably more significantly due to the lingering effects of the recent economic recession. While generation capacity has increased slightly this is primarily attributable to the rehabilitation of existing power plants and the commissioning of several small – scale renewable projects.

In several European countries the margins between supply and demand are at dangerously low levels and the risk of brownouts and blackouts have never been greater.

Many commentators argue that Europe’s current energy mix relies too heavily on imported oil and gas from politically unstable parts of the world, along with an unhealthy dependence on fossil fuels.

As such Europe's energy policy is currently at a crossroads. Its grid infrastructure and many power stations are ageing and major investment decisions are need at a time when investors are running shy of the sector. Important issues are at stake; stability of supply, growing demand, the risks of nuclear power and the urgent need to cut emissions and head off climate change. The recent turmoil in Ukraine has also highlighted the importance of energy security by reducing European mainland generators reliance on imported gas from Russia.

Wind Power GenerationIn the quest to cut greenhouse emissions, the EU aims to obtain by 2020 20% of its energy from renewable sources – basically by generous financial support for projects promoting wind, solar, hydro-electric and tidal power sources.

Underlying the current climate is also the concern among industrialists and politicians about maintaining Europe’s international business competiveness by minimizing energy costs, which have risen significantly in recent times. With US energy costs being half of those found in Europe, many are hoping that, like in the US, shale gas may be the solution.


Electricity in Europe


Click on the relevant country listed below to learn more about the voltage available and the state of the supply in the region.

Northern Europe

-   Denmark
-   Estonia
-   Faroe Islands
-   Finland
-   Guernsey
-   Iceland
Ireland (Eire)
-   Isle of Man
-   Jersey
-   Latvia
-   Lithuania
-   Norway
-   Sweden
-   United Kingdom

Western Europe

-   Austria
-   Belgium
-   France
-   Germany
-   Liechtenstein
-   Luxembourg
-   Monaco
-   Netherlands
-   Switzerland

Southern Europe                     

-   Andorra
-   Balearic Islands
-   Canary Islands
-   Cyprus
-   Gibraltar
-   Greece
-   Italy
-   Madeira
   San Marino

Eastern Europe

-   Albania
-   Armenia
-   Azerbaijan
-   Belarus
-   Bosnia
-   Bulgaria
-   Croatia
-   Czech Rep
-   Georgia
-   Hungary
-   Kosovo
-   Macedonia
-   Moldova
-   Montenegro
-   Poland
-   Romaina
-   Russia
-   Serbia
-   Slovakia
-   Slovenia
-   Ukraine

North Atlantic Ocean

-   Azores

Every reasonable effort is made to ensure that the information provided above is accurate. No guarantees for the accuracy of the information is made. 

Electricity in the Middle East - Overview

While the Middle East is rich in oil and gas reserves, countries in the region have a varied record in delivering power to their citizens.

Due to economic and demographic problems in certain countries the grid supply fails to reach many, especially the poorer communities in rural areas.

It is estimated that there are over 1 million Iranians, 1.4 million Syrians, 4 million Iraqis and a startling 14 million Yemenis who live without grid supply, having to rely on expensive off-grid energy sources such as Diesel Generators for their electricity.

Electricity in the Middle EastWhere national grid supplies are available, due to a lack of investment by governments in the past in generating capacity and the maintenance of existing transmission and distribution infrastructure , demand can often exceed supply and brown-outs and, in more dire situations, blackouts occur on a growing regular basis – especially during peak seasonal times where the requirements of air-conditioning can be considerable.

Recent conflicts, refugee flows and mass migration of people from rural areas to the cities have only led to a further exasperation of the situation.

Today, with growing populations throughout the Middle East and in general living standards rising, the reliability and quality of the power being delivered is becoming in many of the region’s countries a growing problem.

Electricity in the Middle East


Click on the relevant country listed below to learn more about the voltage available and the state of the supply in the region.

-   Bahrain
-   Iran
-   Iraq
-   Israel
-   Jordan
-   Kuwait
-   Oman
-   Palestinian Territories
-   Qatar
-   Saudi Arabia
-   Syria
-   United Arab Emirates
-   Yemen

Every reasonable effort is made to ensure that the information provided above is accurate. No guarantees for the accuracy of the information is made.

Electricity in North America - Overview

North American Power GridThe North American power network may realistically be considered to be the largest and most complex machine in the world — its transmission lines connect all the electric generation and distribution on the continent. The network incorporates over 15,000 generators in 10,000 power plants, and hundreds of thousands of miles of transmission lines and distribution networks.

However, this network has historically been allowed to evolve without any formal top-level planning or analysis. Only recently, with the advent of deregulation, unbundling, and competition in the electric power industry, has the possibility of power delivery beyond neighbouring areas become a key design and engineering consideration.

In today’s increasing connected digital world, which relies very heavily in homes, offices, and industrial facilities on the wonders of the microprocessor, secure and reliable power is essential. Unfortunately the inherent limitations of the generation and distribution network are not always fully appreciated by the consumer.

Over the last ten years or so, the network has become increasingly stressed with carrying capacity and safety margins struggling to cope with demand.

According to data from the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) and analyses from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), average outages from 1984 to the present have affected nearly 700,000 customers per event annually. Smaller outages occur much more frequently and affect tens to hundreds of thousands of customers every few weeks or months, while larger outages occur every two to nine years and affect millions. Much larger outages affect seven million or more customers per event each decade.

On August 14, 2003, a widespread power outage struck parts of the North-Eastern United States and Canada, affecting an estimated 55 million people. At the time the second worst blackout in history, the outage was caused by a computer malfunction in Ohio that led to an unprecedented and widespread power grid failure that contributed to at least 11 fatalities.

North American Power GridIt would be nice to think that, following the wake up warning of 2003, the reliability of power in North America is improving, however research would indicate that in fact the overall quality and dependability of power is getting worse, especially if you factor in the increased occurrences and the effects of ‘weather events’ arising from supposed global warming.

As the electricity sector does not measure or track the costs incurred by customers from poor power quality the actual cost to the economy is not readily apparent. What estimates are available vary widely from $30 Billion to over $150 Billion per annum.

Electricity in North America


Click on the relevant country listed below to learn more about the voltage available and the state of the supply in the region.

North America

-   Canada
-   Greenland
-   Mexico
-   United States

North Atlantic Occean

-   Bermuda
-   Saint-Pierre & Miquelon


Every reasonable effort is made to ensure that the information provided above is accurate. No guarantees for the accuracy of the information is made. 

Electricity in Central & South America - Overview

Power Cuts in ArgentinaLatin America has a very fragmented energy market. Over the past decade, with rising population numbers and a blossoming middle class, regional demand for electricity has increased significantly and has resulted, across the region from the resource-hungry Brazil to the oil-exporting Venezuela, in electricity supply shortages, blackouts and brownouts.

In the midst of rising demand, the region has been struggling with a wide-range of issues in building new electric generation capacity. Brazil and Chile have recently stalled plans to build new hydro-powered dams because of human rights and environmental concerns, forcing them to look for other sources of energy to meet projected demand. In Colombia domestic terrorism has led to the destruction of many rural transmission and distribution infrastructures.

Climate change is also adding significantly to problems in the region. In the summer of 2013-2014, Argentinians were hit by one of the country's most severe heat waves on record -- prompting a huge air-conditioning spike in December that set all-time highs for power demand and caused nationwide blackouts. To the northeast, in Brazil, February brought similar news. Peak demand for electricity reached an all-time high of 86 gigawatts. In a country that generates nearly 80% of its electricity from dams, water levels dipped below 37% of capacity, the lowest since 2001. And all this following the country's second-driest January in 80 years. Even some of the waterfalls from the Iguazu falls, one of the world's most iconic natural landscapes, largely dried up.

As economies in the region continue to expand Latin America's power consumption is expected to nearly double by 2030. The World Energy Council (WEC) anticipates that to meet future demand a cumulative investment from 2010 to 2050 of between US$1.33 trillion to US$1.36 trillion will be required. In addition optimising electricity market structures both nationally and across the region, will be essential in solving the gap between demand and supply.

Electricity in Central and South America


Click on the relevant country listed below to learn more about the voltage available and the state of the supply in the region.

Central America

-   Belize
-   Costa Rica
-   El Salvador
-   Guatemala
-   Honduras
-   Nicaragua

South America

-   Argentina
-   Bolivia
-   Brazil
-   Chile
-   Colombia
-   Ecuador
-   French Guiana
-   Guyana
-   Paraguay
-   Peru
-   Suriname
-   Uruguay
-   Venezuela

South Atlantic Ocean

-   Ascension Island
-   Falkland Islands
-   Saint Helena
-   South Georgia

Every reasonable effort is made to ensure that the information provided above is accurate. No guarantees for the accuracy of the information is made. 

Electricity in the Caribbean - Overview

Electricity in the Caribbean is typically produced using high cost imported oil and diesel. As a result Caribbean islands pay some of the highest electricity prices in the world, undermining economic growth in the region and creating real competitiveness issue for the region's industries as they struggle to undercut competitors in the US.

Available electricity supplies across the Caribbean are either based on the US 120V/208V 60Hz or International 230V/400V 50Hz distribution systems.

Storm DamageThe installed electric generating capacity in the Caribbean exceeds 17 Gigawatts (GW). While most of the countries in the region have relatively high rates of electricity access, there is a growing need for additional generating capacity. At times available grid supplies struggle to keep up with demand and voltage brown-outs can occur. Several countries (including the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba) experience power outages on a regular basis.

Between the months of June through to November tropical cyclones with hurricane force winds regularly hit the islands, wreaking havoc with electricity transmission and distribution systems - often resulting in prolonged supply disruptions.

It is widely acknowledged that several of the countries generating plants are ageing and unless replaced within the next few years overall supply reliability will deteriorate. 

Climate Wealth Summit February 2014Rising to meet the need for investment in new and replacement capacity there is a growing recognition that islands must switch generation capacity from expensive diesel and oil derived power to more renewable resources, including geothermal, solar and wind energy.

Electricity in the Caribbean


Click on the relevant country listed below to learn more about the voltage available and the state of the supply in the region.

-   Anguilla
-   Antigua and Barbuda
-   Aruba
-   Bahamas
-   Barbados
-   Bonaire
British Virgin Islands
-   Cayman Islands
-   Cuba
-   Curacao
-   Dominica
-   Dominican Republic
-   Grenada
-   Guadeloupe
-   Haiti
-   Jamaica
-   Martinique
-   Montserrat
-   Puerto Rico
-   Saba
-   Saint Barthelemy
-   Saint Kitts & Nevis
-   Saint Lucia
-   Saint Martin
-   Saint Vincent 

-   Sint Maarten
-   Sint Eustatius
-   Trinidad & Tobago
-   Turks & Caicos Islands
-   US Virgin Islands

Every reasonable effort is made to ensure that the information provided above is accurate. No guarantees for the accuracy of the information is made. 

Electricity in Asia - Overview

North Korean Electricity Black WholeAs large swathes of Asia are painfully aware, electricity is a scarce commodity, with summer power cuts, long waits for utility hookups and economic investment curtailed due to the inability to ensure the availability of a reliable supply. In South Asian countries, such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, factories and businesses regularly come to a stand-still due to crippling power cuts and severe voltage fluctuations. And according to the Asian Development Bank the situation is only likely to get worse in these countries as the demand for energy increases.

Even China and India, the world's two biggest emerging economies, are not immune from problems. While China, through massive investment in increased generation capacity and transmission infrastructure, may now have arrived at a manageable situation, India (and its neighbour Pakistan) are lurching from one power crisis to another. Having experienced in 2012 the largest blackout in human history (which affected over 600 million people!!), India continues to struggle in getting to grip with massive power deficits and commentators are genuinely fearful that the failure of government to address the current power difficulties is beginning to seriously damage the regions tentative economic recovery.

Fukushima DisasterSince the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, one of the most heavily industrialized and advanced countries in the world, the Japanese government has been struggling with how to power the economy. Before Fukushima, nuclear power provided nearly a third of Japan’s electricity, since the disaster Japan has suspended the operations of all of its nuclear plants – creating a massive potential supply deficit. To reduce consumption and avoid the continuance of rolling blackouts, officials have attempted to drastically rein in energy usage and have had to cover the remaining deficit by relying far more heavily on electricity generation derived from fossil fuels, all of which have had to be imported. These fuels are far more expensive than nuclear and businesses have had to accept substantial electricity price rises which, passed thru to clients as increased product costs, has the effect of undermining Japanese companies competitiveness in global markets. Finding a cheap long term solution to Japan’s energy needs is an ever growing issue and without a solution in the near future could well jeopardise the country’s long term economic growth prospects.

Not exempt from supply problems, the other major economic powerhouse of the region, South Korea is finding that a lack of investment in new generation capacity and an historical reliance on nuclear power can be troublesome. In the summer of 2013, as South Korea was basking in record breaking temperatures, the nation switched on the air conditioning to cool down and the power grid experienced an unprecedented surge in demand. While in the summer months similar related smaller surges are not uncommon events, on this occasion due to the sheer size of the surge and the fact that two aging coal fired power plants were shut down for essential maintenance, coupled with three nuclear reactor power stations being offline at the time due to a safety scandal, the country found that it did not have enough electricity to keep everything running. To prevent the grid crashing government buildings were ordered to turn off their air conditioning and nationwide rolling blackouts were implemented.


Electricity in Asia


Click on the relevant country listed below to learn more about the voltage available and the state of the supply in the region.

Northeast Asia                              

-   China
-   Hong Kong
-   Japan
-   Macau
-   Mongolia
-   North Korea
South Korea
-   Taiwan
-   Tibet

Southeast Asia

-   Bhutan
-   Brunei
-   Cambodia
-   East Timor
-   Indonesia
-   Laos
-   Malaysia
-   Myanmar (Burma)
-   Philippines
-   Singapore
-   Thailand
-   Vietnam

South Asia

-   Bangladesh
-   India
-   Maldives
-   Nepal
-   Sri Lanka

Central Asia

-   Afghanistan
-   Kazakhstan
-   Kyrgyzstan
-   Pakistan
-   Tajikistan
-   Turkmenistan
-   Uzbekistan 


Every reasonable effort is made to ensure that the information provided above is accurate. No guarantees for the accuracy of the information is made. 

Electricity in Oceania - Overview

Arnold Hydro Power Station in New ZealandWith the area being primarily dominated by Australia and New Zealand, the Oceania region is abundant in natural resources and shows a wide diversity in fuel sources utilized to generate electricity. In addition each country has its own unique challenges in terms of economies of scale, fuel availability and accessibility in delivering clean, affordable and reliable power.

Australia, being rich in coal and uranium, derives over 70% of its electricity from fossil fuels and has a situation where, due to a widely endorsed national drive for energy efficiency, demand is reducing. Currently it is estimated that there is a very healthy 15 to 20% over supply in national generation capacity. Unlike many countries in the rest of world, there is no immediate requirement for additional capacity, however there is a growing public demand for current coal fired generation plant operators to clean up their act and reduce carbon emissions.

New Zealand on the other hand gets over 70% its power from cleaner hydro and other renewable resources. The majority of this generation is from aging hydro stations established on lakes and rivers in the lower half of the South Island, while most of the electricity demand is in the North Island, in particular, the Auckland region. Consequently, large amounts of electricity is need to be transmitted long distances over the grid. The aging and near-capacity grid has suffered in recent years several high profile failures, including a five week blackout in Auckland during 1998, a seven hour blackout of the inner city in 2006 and also in 2009 a four hour loss of supply to northern Auckland and the whole of Northland when a forklift accidentally took out a 220 kV circuit. Since 2006, the authorities have spent nearly $2 billion in reinforcing the supply into and around Auckland.

On the regions numerous remote islands and atolls power generation has been primarily derived from expensive petroleum oils and inefficient diesel generators. The introduction of solar water heaters in countries like Kiribati, Samoa, Nauru, Tuvalu and the Cook Islands, and hydro power generation playing a more important role in Fiji and Samoa, clearly shows an intension by the islands in the future to move towards a more renewable and less expensive electricity mix.


Electricity in Oceania


Click on the relevant country listed below to learn more about the voltage available and the state of the supply in the region.

-   American Samoa
-   Australia
-   Christmas Island
-   Cocos Islands
-   Cook Islands
-   Fiji
-   Kiribati
-   Marshall Islands
-   Micronesia
-   Nauru
-   New Caledonia
New Zealand
-   Niue
-   Norfolk Island
-   Northern Mariana Islands
-   Palau
-   Papua New Guinea
-   Pitcairn Islands
-   Samoa
-   Solomon Islands
-   Tahiti
-   Tokelau
-   Tonga
-   Tuvalu
-   Vanuatu
-   Wallis & Futuna

Every reasonable effort is made to ensure that the information provided above is accurate. No guarantees for the accuracy of the information is made.

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