Electricity – the bigger picture

Electricity can be created using a wide variety of fuels and processes. Some of these involve little or no carbon dioxide at all in use — such as solar panels, wind turbines and hydro-electric power and are ‘renewable’. The targets for renewable energy in the UK are ambitious but at the moment the UK is 25th out of the 27 EU countries in the proportion of its energy that is derived from these sources1. In the UK most electricity is generated by burning coal or gas, with a contribution also made by nuclear.

As electricity is usually produced from burning coal or gas, mains electricity is more expensive and carbon intensive than either. It therefore makes economic and environmental sense to use mains gas, where possible, to heat the home and to reserve precious electricity for the other tasks. Above all it makes sense to save energy.

At the moment homes consume 28% of all of the ‘final’ energy used in the UK2, and lighting and electrical appliances account for just under 13% of the average household consumption3.

1 BBC, 30/11/2010, Renewable Energy Strategy Under Fire from MPs

2 Dukes 2009, Para 1.14 (2008 figures) and table 1B

3 Office for National Statistics, Domestic energy consumption per household7: by final use: Social Trends 34 Table 11.14