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All energy suppliers must publish information about their energy fuel mix annually.
This fuel mix is the ratio of different fuels or energy sources the supplier uses to generate your electricity. The ratio is compiled of coal, gas, nuclear, renewables (green) and 'other'.
You can compare suppliers' fuel mixes to each other's, or compare it to the national average.
Average 2016-2017 energy fuel mix from all UK energy suppliers
- 9% Coal
- 44% Natural Gas
- 21% Nuclear
- 24% Renewable
- 2% Other
Average 2015-2016 energy fuel mix from all UK energy suppliers
- 17% Coal
- 32% Natural Gas
- 24% Nuclear
- 24% Renewable
- 2.5% Other
Comparing it to the year before, you can see that coal use is significantly being reduced in favour of natural gas.
All UK energy suppliers update their fuel mix figures annually. Ofgem, the energy regulator, requires all electricity suppliers in the UK to tell customers where they get their fuel and how that is broken down by percentage
The British Gas fuel mix has slightly more coal than the national average but its renewable sources take up a significantly higher proportion of its fuel mix than the 2017 average.
ScottishPower's fuel mix primarily consists of natural gas. Nuclear power and coal are used in smaller proportions than the average UK energy supply's fuel mix.
EDF Energy's fuel mix is almost entirely sourced from nuclear power. In fact, EDF's Blue Tariff gets 100% of its energy from nuclear. Aside from its Renewables Tariff, all of its other products use around 74% nuclear power.
E.ON's energy fuel mix is primarily made up of natural gas and renewable sources.
Like all of the UK's major energy suppliers, SSE energy's fuel mix is generated from a combination of natural gas and renewable sources, with some coal and nuclear power used. SSE's fuel mix is closely aligned with the UK average, except that it uses more renewable and natural gas fuel on average, and less nuclear.
npower energy's fuel mix is made up almost entirely from natural gas. Their customers are likely to receive around 90% of their fuel mix from natural gas, with renewables being the next biggest proportion, but at only 7%.
OVO Energy's fuel mix represents a rising trend among new energy suppliers in the UK: more focus on renewables. OVO Energy is unique among the major energy suppliers in the UK in that it does not use any coal or nuclear in its fuel mix.
What are the differences between the fuel types?
The UK's average energy supply comes from a fuel mix of coal, natural gas, renewables and nuclear. Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of each type of fuel used in the UK's energy supply:
Coal energy - pros and cons
+ Energy Guide Final Review
+ Natural gas is said to be half as damaging as coal to the environment
- That said, it is still a major contributor to global warming and there are concerns over the use of fracking to extract natural gas
- It is non-renewable, and extraction won't get easier as there'll be fewer locations to drill in
Nuclear power energy - pros and cons
+ Nuclear energy is relatively environmentally friendly
+ Nuclear energy is cheap and reliable and there might be the technology available to make it renewable
- Despite nuclear energy not emitting any greenhouse gases, it is still dangerous to the environment during its transportation and disposal of waste
- It is very costly to set up due to all of the safety measures and permissions required
Renewable energy - pros and cons
+ Generally, all renewable sources are clean and sustainable, meaning they can continuously be used at little cost
+ Wind turbines and solar panels are relatively cheap to build and inexpensive to maintain
- Wind turbines, for example, require lots of land to create significant amounts of energy
There are multiple sources where UK suppliers get their renewable energy from:
- Wind energy
- Solar energy
- Biomass energy
- Hydro energy
- Landfill waste energy
If you want your fuel mix to come from other sources of power, then you can use this guide to determine what your current provider uses, and then compare energy deals in your area to see if you can find a cheaper plan on a different fuel mix.
What will the UK fuel mix be in future?
Although there has been some big shifts in where the UK's energy suppliers get their fuel mix from, these changes may not be as noticeable or significant.
However, the trends seem to point to a reduction in coal use and a continued growth in the proportion of energy coming from renewable sources.
In fact, many of the major energy suppliers have all stated their intentions to invest heavily in renewable energy sources, such as offshore and onshore wind farms, solar and biomass.
This is because renewable energy is self-financing and coal is finite and will eventually run out. In the long run, renewable energy will likely make the most financial sense for energy suppliers.
Nonetheless, due to the technological advancements made in being able to locate and extract natural gas at an affordable rate, we will likely see it continue as the UK's main source of fuel for quite some time.