You can now find out how the electricity that you pay for is generated and make an informed choice about whether to buy nuclear power, renewable energy, or electricity from coal or gas power stations.
The data on this site is not official Government data nor is it necessarily as published by the suppliers. We correct published data where it is clearly wrong or request clarification from the suppliers if necessary.
Even big six suppliers like Scottish Power and npower all too often publish inaccurate or incomplete information. It is quite common for the UK average figure for high-level nuclear waste to be given without factoring that nuclear is only around a fifth of the average fuel mix, which makes the companies nuclear waste figures look five times better than they are in comparison to the average.
Probably the most blatant misleading data from any of the big six came from e.on which, by rounding data to three decimal places, claimed a high-level nuclear waste figure of 0.000 g/kWh, rather than a more accurate figure of 0.0004 g/kWh, less than the average value of 0.0019 g/kWh but given the typical values for nuclear waste, rounding to three decimal places was not justifiable.
Since 1 October 2005, UK electricity suppliers must provide customers with details of the mix of fuels used to produce the electricity supplied to them.
Consumers are familiar with food labeling giving them information on ingredients, nutrition and calories. Now it is mandatory for all electricity suppliers to label their products with the fuels used to generate the electricity, the carbon emissions and the nuclear waste produced.
You can compare the fuel mix from your own supplier to see if it is better or worse than average based on the criteria that are important to you.
It will show the share of supply generated by coal, natural gas, nuclear, renewable and other energy sources. Unless you are buying electricity from a green renewable energy company, most of your electricity is likely to be generated at fossil fuel (coal and gas) power stations and nuclear power stations.
As part of the fuel mix disclosure, suppliers also have to show the carbon dioxide emissions resulting from the electricity that they supply to customers.
CO2 emissions are a major contributor to global climate change, the most serious environmental threat facing the world today.
Electricity generation is currently the biggest single source of CO2 emissions in the UK, responsible for approximately a third of total emissions.
Note that the figures shown in fuel mix data are for carbon dioxide emissions directly related to electricity generation and take no account of lifecycle emissions. For nuclear power in particular there are carbon dioxide emissions related to construction of the power station and mining and processing of the uranium fuel.
Suppliers have to state the amount of high-level radioactive waste created as a result of the generation of the electricity they supply.
Nuclear waste is produced at each stage of the nuclear fuel cycle, from uranium mining to reprocessing irradiated nuclear fuel. Much of the high-level radioactive waste will remain hazardous for thousands or even millions of years.
Nuclear power also creates large quantities of medium and low-level waste which requires storage and/or controlled disposal, but the fuel mix disclosure regulations only relate to high-level waste.
After over 50 years of nuclear power and numerous Government studies and reports, the UK still has no satisfactory solution for dealing with nuclear waste.
Cumbria County Council rejected Government’s plans to undertake preliminary work on an underground radioactive waste dump at the start of 2013. The county and its western district councils Allerdale and Copeland were the only local authorities in the UK still involved in feasibility studies for a £12bn disposal facility. So the rejection left the UK once again, without a plan for dealing with its nuclear waste legacy, let alone waste from proposed new reactors.
In July 2014 the Government issued a new White Paper Implementing Geological Disposal. Since then it has been working through and consulting on the three initial actions set out in the White Paper – a National Geological Screening process; setting up a Community Representation Working Group and declaring the development of a Geological Disposal Facility a ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project’ within the Planning Act 2008.
The Government plans to launch a formal engagement with potential host communities in 2017. It favours a voluntarist approach for selecting a site for a ‘deep geological disposal facility’ that is based on working in partnership with communities. However, no sites have been selected nor are any currently under consideration.
An account of the attempts to find a solution to the problem of nuclear waste is given in History of nuclear waste disposal proposals in Britain.
If you are concerned about your household carbon dioxide emissions or purchase of nuclear power you might prefer to get your electricity from renewable energy sources. Many companies offer “green” tariffs.
There are three main types of green electricity supply: green supply (generated from renewable energy sources), green funds (which use a portion of your payments to promote renewable energy or other environmental projects) and carbon offset. Some tariffs provide a combination of more than one of these.
Green electricity is generated by renewable energy sources, including small-scale hydropower, wind power (onshore and offshore), solar power, biomass (energy crops, wood chips, etc) and landfill gas.
Green tariffs are available to everyone in the UK, often at no extra cost. Find out the options for switching to green electricity.
Switch to green electricity at Green Electricity Marketplace