While all eyes were on political events in Westminster last week, BEIS (the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) published its annual analysis of energy consumption. As illustrated by the #ICAEWchartoftheweek, 2,325 terawatt-hours of energy was utilised in the UK last year, the equivalent of 200 million tonnes of oil.
Around 80% of this was in the form of hydrocarbons, with the balance comprising bioenergy, nuclear, hydro, wind and solar, together with a small amount (~20 TWh) of imported electricity.
The net amount of energy supplied to customers was 1,760 TWh, comprising electricity of 300 TWh, natural gas of 515 TWh, petrol, diesel & oil of 835 TWh, and other fuels of 110 TWh.
The largest use was on transport, with petrol and diesel making up the bulk of the 665 TWh consumed in 2018, 38% of the total. This was followed by a variety of industrial and commercial uses (615 TWh or 35%), while domestic use amounted to 480 TWh or 27%.
Although this analysis shows the 395 TWh lost on conversion into different forms, and the 175 TWh used or lost in moving it to its destination (of which 360 TWh and 50 TWh respectively related to electricity), it does not show the energy lost at the point of consumption, such as inside the millions of relatively inefficient combustion engines on our roads.
What the chart does make clear is just how far there is to go in achieving a zero carbon economy. Hydro, wind and solar provided around 21% of the electricity generated in 2018, but this was still only 3% of the overall energy supply.
A substantially greater investment will be needed if we are to completely decarbonise the UK.
The #ICAEWchartoftheweek is taking a break for August and will be back on Monday 2 September.
For a more detailed understanding of UK energy usage in 2018, BEIS have put together an Energy Flowchart infographic, albeit it uses millions of tonnes of oil equivalent rather than TWh (1 Mtoe = 11.63 TWh) – click here to see it.
(1 TWh = 1 million MWh = 1 million x 3 weeks energy use for the average household = 3.6 petajoules = 3.6 billion megajoules.)