Since 2005, suppliers have been required to publish information on how the electricity that they supply to domestic customers is generated, so you can make an informed choice about whether to buy nuclear power, renewable energy, or electricity from coal or gas power stations.
We give no guarantee on the availability or accuracy of data provided on this site. The data we publish 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. For 2016-17 fuel mix, we found that over half of suppliers published incomplete or inaccurate data.
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.
One example of misleading data from any of the big six came from e.on in 2013: by rounding data to three decimal places, they 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.
Even accurate fuel mix data doesn’t give a complete picture of a supplier. Their supply may have come from their own generation, Power Purchase Agreements, REGO trading or a mix of these.
REGO trading, where a supplier purchases electricity from the general mix in the grid, then separately purchases certificates from renewable suppliers who have supplied to the grid, has been described by critics as “greenwashing” or “pale green”. REGO trading is perfectly valid under the Government’s Fuel Mix legislation, but the cost of REGO certificates has fallen in recent years, making it inexpensive for suppliers to increase the renewables in their fuel mix, while providing little additional financial support to renewables generators.
The current REGO system is not functioning properly, but we do not believe that the concept of retrospectively matching generation to supply through a certificate scheme that avoids double counting of green electricity is necessarily greenwashing or less green than other arrangements. All electricity supplied through the grid involves various financial and paper transactions. Even a generator / supplier that generates the same amount of renewable electricity as they sell to their customers does not generate their electricity in sync with when their customers use electricity.
Government should improve or replace the current REGO scheme and ensure that all suppliers meet their obligations to publish their fuel mix.
Though fuel mix data has its limitations, and should be improved, we believe it still provides useful information for consumers.
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 labelling 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.