Energy Fuel Mix Explained

Many people now want to know more about where their food comes from and its impact on the environment, but have you ever considered where your energy comes from?

What is the fuel mix?

The electricity we use in our homes is generated from a mix of different fuels such as nuclear, coal and renewable sources (wind, water and the sun). The different amounts of each fuel contributed make up our fuel mix. Think of it like the labels you see on your food, which tell you how much salt and sugar are in the product.

The statistics cover renewable, nuclear, gas, coal and other sources. You can view the year on year reports on the Consumer Focus website

How is this calculated?

Under The Electricity (Fuel Mix Disclosure) Regulations 2005, all suppliers have to publish details of the fuels they use to generate their electricity, together with the impact that this activity has on the environment. The fuels are shown as a percentage, while the overall environmental impact is typically expressed in the carbon dioxide (CO2) gases that are emitted for each kiloWattHour (kWh) of electricity that is generated. Coal is the most carbon-intensive fuel used in the UK, while nuclear power or renewable power generate no CO2. This does not mean that nuclear power has no detrimental environmental impact or poses no risk to the environment - hence the fuel mix statement will include information about the long term nuclear waste generated for each kWh of electricity made in a nuclear station.

Why does this matter to me?

The fuel mix varies greatly from supplier to supplier. EDF's power mostly comes from nuclear power stations. Scottish Power's electricity is very coal-dependent, while British Gas and npower source most of their electricity from gas. SSE, on the other hand, has the largest portion of renewable energy in its mix. What this means is that with your choice of energy supplier you are making a statement in favour of a particular fuel mix, each with its own environmental implications. Remember though, that the electricity that comes out of the socket in your home is the average of all the suppliers' fuel mixes.

I'm on a green tariff so does the fuel mix affect me?

Unfortunately, it does. The electricity that we receive into our homes is a homogenised mix of all the energy that is put into the grid. It is not possible to send one type of fuel to a home as all homes are taking their energy directly from the national grid. By signing up to a green energy tariff, you are ensuring that more renewable green energy will be put into the grid, raising the proportion of renewable fuel used in the UK as a whole, so stick with it!

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