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Country insight – UK

Primary energy consumption declined sharply in 2020. Driven by growth in ‎wind energy production, renewables took the lead in electricity generation

Fast facts

1    Primary energy consumption in the UK fell by 11% in 2020, the sharpest reduction ‎since 1980‎

 

2    Renewables share of power generation exceeded 40% for the first time, and ‎renewables grew to 17% of the UK’s primary energy mix

 

3    Oil consumption fell by 22% to 1.2 Mb/d. The dramatic fall in aviation activity caused ‎by COVID-19 was responsible for almost half (47%) of the decline‎

-11%

Fall in primary energy ‎consumption

-15%

Combined fall in oil and ‎gas consumption

25%

Share of primary energy ‎from non-fossil sources

-16%

Decline in CO2 emissions ‎from energy use

At a glance

  • Primary energy consumption fell ‎by 11%. The largest fall since ‎‎1980. This was clearly the impact ‎of restrictions imposed by the ‎COVID-19 pandemic, which ‎dramatically reduced demand for ‎energy in transportation. ‎
  • For the first time since 2010, ‎natural gas returned to being the ‎largest source of primary energy. ‎
  • Oil and gas remained the ‎dominant sources of energy, ‎accounting for 35% and 38% of ‎primary energy consumption, ‎respectively. But for the first time ‎the share of primary energy of ‎decarbonised sources (nuclear, ‎hydro, and renewables) rose to ‎‎25% of the mix.‎
  • Oil consumption decreased by ‎‎22%, to 1.2 Mb/d. 47% of the ‎0.3 Mb/d fall was from lower jet ‎fuel consumption. ‎
  • Gas consumption also fell, by ‎‎6.5% with power generation from ‎gas declining by more than 13%.‎
  • Coal consumption declined by ‎‎11% and provided less than 3% of ‎the country’s primary energy mix.‎
  • Renewables output increased by ‎‎10% in 2020 to 1.2 EJ. Benefiting ‎from the declines in other sources, ‎renewables also grew to 17.3% of ‎the primary energy mix.‎
  • The growth in renewables was ‎largely due to increased wind ‎energy output, which was up 17% ‎to 0.7 EJ. ‎
  • Total power generation declined, ‎falling by 4.0% to 313 TWh owing ‎to lower demand for electricity as ‎the wider economy shrank. ‎Renewables’ share of the ‎generation mix exceeded 40% for ‎the first time.‎
  • Domestic fossil fuel production ‎declined, with falls across the ‎board in oil (-8%), gas (-0.4%), and ‎coal (-23%) production. ‎
  • Energy intensity (energy demand ‎per unit of GDP) fell by 1.0%, ‎much lower than the 10-average ‎decline of 3.0%.‎
  • In line with lower consumption, ‎net CO2 emissions from energy ‎use fell by 16%.‎