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The UK energy market in 2018

Primary energy and power demand continued to fall in 2018. The power sector continued to decarbonise with sharp falls in coal consumption and increase in renewables

Fast facts

Primary energy consumption in the UK declined 0.5% in 2018, with energy consumption the lowest since at least 1965 and 17% below the peak in 2005
Power generation from coal-fired plants continued to decline, coal’s overall share of the generation mix fell to just 5% compared to nearly 40% in 2012
Renewables grew strongly, led by wind, and made up 7% of UK primary energy in 2018 compared to 1% just 10 years ago
+13% Increase in renewables going in the power sector
32% Renewables share in power generation
-25% Decline of coal going into the power sector in 2018
-2.3% Decline in CO2 emissions from energy use
Primary energy consumption in the UK fell by 0.5% in 2018, a slower rate of decline than the 1.4% seen over the previous 10 years.
Oil and gas remained the dominant energy sources, accounting for 40% and 35% of primary energy consumption, respectively.
Oil consumption decreased 1.2% in the year to 1.6 mb/d – around half of peak oil consumption in the UK seen in the early 1970s.
Natural gas consumption remained flat compared to a declining trend of 2% p.a. seen over the past 10 years. Gas in power fell 4% as falling electricity demand and increase in renewables more than offset the reduction in coal.
Coal consumption declined 17% and made-up just 4% of UK’s primary energy mix in 2018 compared to nearly 20% in 2012. This was the lowest share since the industrial revolution. 
After being broadly flat for the previous three years, total power generation continued its long-term decline and fell 1.4% in 2018 to 334 TWh – its lowest level since 1994.
Despite a 7.5% fall in nuclear, the majority of UK power generation came from zero carbon sources (nuclear, hydro and renewables). These accounted for 53% of generation in 2018, up from 21% in 2007.
Renewables output increased 13% to 106 TWh with wind, solar and biomass increasing 14% (+7 TWh), 12% (+1.4 TWh) and 12% (+4 TWh) respectively. 
Oil production increased 8.6% to 1.1 Mb/d. This compares to a low in 2014 of 0.85 mb/d/ and similar to 2011.
Natural gas production fell 3.9% to 131 BCM. This compares to annual average fall of 1.9% over past 10 years. 
Energy intensity (energy demand per unit of GDP) fell 1.9% compared to 10-year average decline of 2.5%.
CO₂ from energy use fell by 2.3% to 0.4 giga tonnes – a 30% fall compared to just 10 years ago. Carbon intensity (carbon to produce one unit of GDP) fell 4.5% to nearly 50% below OECD average.