UK electricity generation in 2018 falls to lowest level since 1994

Our first news story this year majors on the evolution of energy efficiency and its remarkable impacts on UK demand.

The BBC reports that new data shows making products more efficient has, along with other factors, been more effective than renewable energy in cutting CO2 emissions. The data comes from the environmental website Carbon Brief.

Carbon Brief’s author says EU product standards on light bulbs, fridges, vacuum cleaners and other appliances have played a substantial part in reducing energy demand.

Provisional calculations show that electricity generation in the UK peaked around 2005. But generation per person is now back down to the level of 1984 (around 5 megawatt hours per capita).

The data shows energy efficiency has contributed to cutting energy demand by 103 TWh. In other words, in the carbon cutting contest, efficiency has won. 

Simon Evans from Carbon Brief told BBC News: “Although the picture is complex it’s clear that energy efficiency has played a huge role in helping the UK to decarbonise, and I don’t think it’s got the recognition it should have.”

Joanne Wade from the Association for Conservation of Energy told BBC News: “I haven’t seen these figures before but I’m not surprised. 

“The huge improvement in energy efficiency tends to be completely ignored. People haven’t noticed it because if efficiency improves, they are still able to have the energy services that they want. I suppose I should reluctantly agree that the fact that no one notices it is part of its appeal.”

Either way, the proof that UK efficiency can match and even step beyond the CO2 reduction power of renewables is a welcome start to 2019.

Energy prices finally capped

In other big news starting the year, a new energy price cap has come into force.

The BBC reports that regulator Ofgem has estimated the new cap will save 11 million people an average of £76 a year.

The cap means that typical usage by a dual fuel customer paying by direct debit will cost no more than £1,137 a year.

And energy efficiency has been cited alongside the cap as a key driver for change. “The introduction of this cap will put an end to suppliers exploiting loyal customers,” said Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice.

“However, while people on default tariffs should now be paying a fairer price for their energy, they will still be better off if they shop around.

“People can also make longer term savings by improving the energy efficiency of their homes. Simple steps, such as better insulation or heating controls, are a good place to start.”

Ofgem will review the situation in February, and then adjust it in April and October each year. 

Make efficiency a towering pillar of UK policy

The Head of Greenpeace’s Political Unit has issued a clarion call for efficiency in a piece for the Huffington Post. Rebecca Newson says efficiency is among key green policies Westminster is overlooking.

She argues we must boost energy efficiency and start decarbonising our heating, and also introduce a zero carbon standard for all new buildings.

She also wants steps to make energy efficiency in existing buildings an infrastructure priority with funding to match, and increased investment in large scale heat trials over the next six months to test solutions.

And she seeks a watchdog eye on Brexit, asking government to: ‘Guarantee that no gaps in environmental protections are opened up through Brexit – make the enforcement of the environmental principles legally binding for all future policies and set up a new green watchdog with sufficient funding and independence from government to robustly enforce environmental law.’

The final word

“All these stories feature a common theme; the essential role of energy efficiency in the UK,” comments Kevin Cox, our Managing Director here at Energys Group. 

“It’s a theme we hope to see shared and examined throughout 2019, as our sector continues to evolve and disrupt energy for the better.”

We hoped you enjoyed this article? Check out more of our energy policy posts here. Please drop us a line if you’d like to chat about any of the issues and themes we’ve covered. 

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