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Country insight – UK

For the first time on record non-fossil energy sources accounted for the majority of UK power generation in 2017, further displacing coal and lowering CO2 emissions

Fast facts

1    Primary energy consumption in the UK declined by just 0.1% in 2017, having declined on average by 1.8% p.a. over the previous decade

 

2    Oil consumption increased marginally as growing demand for diesel and jet fuel outweighed declines in gasoline and fuel oil

 

3    Power generation from coal-fired plants continued to decline, driven by plant closures and the strong carbon price. Coal’s overall share of the generation mix fell to just 6.7%

75% – Combined share of oil and gas in primary energy consumption
Combined share of oil and gas in primary energy consumption
+33% – Growth in wind-powered generation
Growth in wind-powered generation
-26.3% – Decline in coal-fired power generation
Decline in coal-fired power generation
-2.7% – Decline in CO₂ emissions
Decline in CO2 emissions

Projections

  • Primary energy consumption in the UK fell by just 0.1% in 2017, a much slower rate of decline than over the previous 10 years.
  • Oil and gas remained the dominant energy sources, accounting for 40% and 35% of primary energy consumption, respectively.
  • Crude oil production returned to decline following two years of growth, falling by 1.3%.
  • However natural gas production increased slightly (+0.6%), compared with a 10-year average decline of 6.7% p.a.. The increase reflected reduced maintenance and new fields coming on stream.
  • Oil consumption increased by 0.3%, compared with a 10-year average decline of 1.3% p.a..
  • Refinery throughput declined by 0.6%, a relatively solid performance compared with the 10-year average decline of 3.5% p.a.. Strong refining margins supported high utilization rates.
  • Energy intensity (the amount of energy required per unit of GDP) declined by 1.8%%, having fallen by 3.3% in 2016.
  • Total power generation declined by 0.8% to 340 TWh, its lowest level since 1994, reflecting efficiency measures and warmer weather.
  • For the first time on record a majority of UK power generation came from zero carbon sources (nuclear, hydro and renewables). These accounted for 50.4% of generation, up from 45.7% in 2016.
  • This growth was driven by an increase in renewables output, rising from 78 TWh last year to 93 TWh. Wind (+12 TWh) accounted for more than 80% of the increase.
  • Coal-fired power generation continued to decline (-26.3%), driven by plant closures and the strong carbon price. Coal’s overall share of the generation mix fell to just 6.7%.
  • Gas retained its dominant role in power generation, accounting for 39.7% of total output. Nuclear and hydro output remained broadly stable, accounting for 20.9% and 1.8% of total generation, respectively.
  • Power sector declines drove CO2 emissions from energy use down by 2.7%(vs a 10-year average annual decline of 3.4%).