Energy use in the UK

The demand for energy in the UK varies for a variety of reasons:

  • Economic factors: during the recession energy demand did not increase as predicted
  • Seasonal factors: the demand for domestic energy over winter is greater than over the summer
  • Temporal factors: at night there is surplus energy on the national grid because demand is lower

There are two ways energy use can change in the UK:

  • reducing the demand for energy
  • increasing the supply of renewable energy

Reducing energy demand

Regulations have forced vehicles to become more energy efficient and give off less atmospheric pollution.

Many new cars now have ‘stop-start’ technology where engines automatically cut out when they stop to reduce pollution.

The government has also continued to increase fuel and road taxes. Even so, the use of transport is rising so fast that the amount of CO2 given off by transport vehicles continues to rise.

There are also incentives to save energy, for example grants are available to help make homes more energy efficient.

European energy targets

By 2020 European Union targets state that 20 per cent of energy must come from renewable sources. Each member state of the EU may have a different target, as 20 per cent is an average figure for the EU. Sweden has a target of nearly 50 per cent whereas Malta has a target of 10 per cent.

The UK has a target of 15 per cent of its energy consumption being sourced from renewable energy. In 2009 only 3 per cent of energy came from renewable sources in the UK.

The EU also aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The UK government wants to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. It also wants to increase the amount of energy which comes from renewable sources.