As of now for their electricity requirements, the UK relies mainly on fossil-fuelled (such as coal, oil, and gas) power and 15-20% nuclear power. Fossil fuel burning is one of the major contributing factors to climate change. The amount of electricity generated by coal and gas-fired power stations changes each year, as it depends upon a lot of factors such as availability and the current fuel prices then, with some switching over between the two at times. The UK plans to shut down its nuclear power stations gradually over the next decade or so.
The UK government has been taking firm steps towards green electricity and commitment to the Paris agreement. Also due to the strict measures taken in the energy conservation overall electricity requirement has reduced. As per the latest energy report published by the UK government for the first quarter of 2016 versus the first quarter of 2015:
- Electricity generated fell by 3.4% to 92.5 TWh
- Renewables share of electricity generation increased from 22.8% to 25.1%
- Coal’s share of generation decreased from 30.8% to a record low of 15.8%
- Low carbon electricity’s share increased from 41.8% to 43.8%
- Net import electricity remaining same @6.1%
- The Wind and solar generation rose by 0.8% from 12.8 TWh to 12.9 TWh
- Hydro generation remained unchanged @ 2.0 TWh
It is clearly seen from the latest pattern the renewable electricity percentage being used in the UK is growing steadily. This increase is due to many policies imposed by the government such as the Renewables Obligation, Feed-In Tariff (FITs), Microgeneration Certification Scheme (for small businesses generating up to 50kW for their own consumption), etc. The solar photovoltaic’s share of renewable capacity is more than from onshore wind with 30.7% and 30.2% respectively.
The UK is also emphasizing a lot to make energy-saving improvements at the grass-root level, starting from home, including water saving. The electricity saved is more than or equal to the electricity generated is the concept being pushed. A lot of subsidies being offered for energy-saving equipment. The “Big Six” refers to the largest British electricity companies which are also involved in the retail supply of energy to over 50 million homes and businesses in Britain, with over 90% share of domestic customers. UK customers have the option to choose a supplier depending upon the tariff and the type of electricity they are offering.