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Published: 14/07/2015

Do you know where our energy comes from?

76% of the British public is concerned with our reliance on fossil fuels, but most don’t realise how much coal the UK is still burning to generate electricity.

A survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of RenewableUK questioned 2,000 UK adults on their knowledge of Britain’s energy mix. Around a third of respondents think that coal accounts for less than 10% of the UK’s electricity mix but actually 36% of our electricity supply still comes from coal-fired power stations.

The Committee on Climate Change, a Government advisory body, believes there can be no role for conventional coal generation in the UK beyond the early 2020s if we’re going to meet our legally binding commitments to clean up the way we generate electricity. But based on current statistics, we’ve still got a long way to go.

Nearly two-thirds of our fuel for electricity generation is imported

The UK imports fossil fuels from around the world to satisfy our energy demands. 2012 data from Good Energy shows that imported fuels account for 60.7% of UK electricity generation and that only 33.8% of our energy is sourced in the UK. Of this 33.8%, 40.8% came from renewables. These imports come from 20 countries in total, although just three, Russia, Colombia and Norway, supply over a quarter of the fuel we use to generate electricity in the UK.

There is concern in Britain about increasing energy prices and it was an issue much debated in the recent election campaign. Fossil fuel prices are hard to predict at the best of times, but when so much is imported we have less control over our supply. This limited security puts the UK in a potentially vulnerable position. As well as these concerns, there are also the environmental impacts of transporting and using such a large proportion of fossil fuels to think about.

According to Good Energy, fuel imported by boat and pipe for electricity generation in the UK travels an average distance of 3,900 miles. 


72% of people surveyed by YouGov in November 2014 thought that the UK imports too much of its fuel for energy generation, and only 4% of respondents thought that enough is being done to reduce this amount. 76% of people thought that more should be done to increase renewable energy generation in the UK. This is further backed up by data from quarterly polling from Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) that shows the majority of the British public is overwhelmingly positive about renewable energy.

Renewable energy generation powering up

It’s not all doom and gloom. We may still have a long way to go before the UK is not reliant on fossil fuels, however the part renewables play in the country’s energy mix is increasing. In 2014, renewables’ share of electricity generation was a record 19.2%, which is an increase of 4.3 percentage points on the 14.9% in 2013.

How can you help?

Householders in the UK can make a difference by choosing renewables over fossil fuels. There are a number of energy providers that only use green energy for their electricity supply and, in terms of heating your home, you could choose a renewable heating system rather than electric heaters or oil/gas fired central heating. These heating alternatives can reduce your carbon footprint and potentially save you money on your heating bills.

The Reina Group designs and installs heat pump systems across the South East. Take a look at our heat pump FAQs to learn more.