Energy use in the UK

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

  • Economic factors: the cost of energy can affect the affordability of usage
  • 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.

Energy targets

The UK’s legal target is to reach net zero by 2050. This means that the quantity of carbon dioxide produced is no more than the amount taken away. In other words, the volume of CO2 does not increase in the atmosphere and global temperature is capped at an increase of 1.5oC.

The UK Government has committed to reducing greenhouse emissions and expanding renewable energy sources.

Offshore and on-shore wind is the biggest source of renewable energy in the UK and currently makes up 20% of the energy supply. This is set to increase massively in the next decade to meet renewable energy targets.

In 2019, the Scottish Parliament committed to reaching net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2045.

The growth of renewable and sustainable energy is helping reduce our impact, but more action is needed to reach this target.

In 2020, 97% of Scotland’s electricity was generated from renewables.