Majority of UK electricity wasted before reaching households, report finds
The UK loses 54% of its electric energy - worth £9.5bn and enough to cover half of every household's annual electricity bill - before it even reaches end users, according to a new report.
The report, ‘Less Waste, More Growth: Boosting energy productivity’, was produced by a 14-member coalition which includes Greenpeace, the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).
It found that the 54% loss in electricty - caused by an inefficienct energy system - is one of the worst in Europe and equates to the annual carbon emissions of every car in the UK.
ADE’s director Tim Rotheray said: “The fact that we waste enough energy to pay half the electricity bill of every home in Britain should be a national embarrassment. Wasted energy reduces our productivity, undermines efforts to create a competitive economy on a global level and causes unnecessary emissions.
"It does not have to be this way. The productivity review is a great opportunity for Government to focus on how it can support investment in cutting energy waste.”
The report highlights three main recommendations that could save the UK over £3bn a year - £116 on every household energy bill:
- Government should adopt a model similar to Germany’s which sees energy system productivity improved on a yearly basis to improve costs for consumers. The UK could save £23 per household just by matching Germany’s electricity network.
- Generators, networks and businesses should contribute to a stronger economy by implementing revised energy tax regimes and updated power stations from the 19070s where less than 10% currently recover heat waste, losing £2bn in the process.
- Enhancing natural markets with more solution-based approaches allowing supply and demand to remain on a level playing field. Long term policy support could reduce both public and business sector bills by £570m.
Dr Douglas Parr, policy director at Greenpeace UK, said: “Cutting energy waste wherever possible should be a no-brainer. You can lower energy bills, cut carbon emissions, and boost energy security at a single stroke.
"Whatever our differences on clean energy the Government must surely realise the obvious benefits of making our energy system more efficient. The broad sweep of organisations supporting this initiative shows that a genuine welcome awaits an effort in this direction.”
Greenpeace’s contribution to the report comes weeks after the organisation's own report stated that renewables' share of the global electricity supply could more than triple in the next 15 years - from 21% today to 64%. Government figures revealed at the start of the year revealed that 35% of electricity came from low-carbon sources in 2014.