United Kingdom

Index rank 04

Balance Score


Energy Trilemma Index Rankings and Balance Score

 2013  2014  2015  Trend Score
Energy Performance  2  3  3   
Energy Security  11  9  4  A
Energy Equity  8  22  30  B
Environmental Sustainability  19  18  21  A
Contextual Performance  27  20  18   
Political Strength  21  21  20   
Societal Strength  17  19  16   
Economic Strength  55  35  33   
Overall Rank  5  4  4  AAB
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Fossil Fuel Reserves

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Key Metrics

Industrial sector (% of GDP) 20.6
TPEP / TPEC  (net energy importer) 0.62
Emission intensity (kg CO2 per USD) 0.21
Energy affordability (USD per kWh) 0.26
GDP / capita (PPP, USD); GDP Group 38,225 (I)
Energy intensity (million BTU per USD) 0.09
CO2 emissions (metric tons CO2 per capita) 7.03
Population Access to Electricity (%) 100.0
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Index Commentary

Overall, the United Kingdom maintains a stable position in the Index throughout the years. The UK remains a �Pack leader� and continues to balance the energy trilemma very well, with good performance on all three energy dimensions. A more diversified electricity generation portfolio and lower import dependence result in a slightly higher energy security ranking. However, tightening capacity margins place the UK on the Index�s watch list as the effects of ageing power plant infrastructure are not yet reflected in the data. Performance in energy equity suffers this year, as electricity becomes comparatively more expensive. The environmental sustainability performance is stable. Unlike most other �Pack leaders�, the UK still relies on fossil fuels for 69% of its electricity fuel mix. Contextually, indicators of political, societal and economic strength are robust.

Trends and Outlook

The UK faces significant challenges in securing its energy supply. Domestic production of fossil fuels has steadily declined. Aspirations to produce unconventional oil and gas have to surmount technical barriers and secure public acceptance. In the power sector, the nuclear fleet is being run down, and many coal plants will be forced to close by European legislation. Constraints in domestic supply have been further aggravated by a number of unscheduled incidents in 2014, which have caused the closure of three power supply plants and four nuclear reactors.

The UK is implementing policies that aim at decarbonising the power sector while securing supply through comprehensive reforms in the Energy Act 2013, notably contracts for difference to support low-carbon generation and the creation of a capacity market. A renewables energy target is already in place (15% of energy demand is to come from renewables by 2020). The fourth carbon budget has been confirmed, requiring a cut of 40% in CO2 emissions compared with 1990, setting the UK on a path to meet its long-term objective of reducing GHG emissions by 80% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.

The greatest challenges for policymakers will be executing the reforms, monitoring their impact and if necessary adjusting the new policies to ensure they are effective while staying within the overall prescribed cost framework. Difficulties with implementation are vividly illustrated by the unsatisfactory start to the Green Deal, designed to drive more demand-side efficiency. Consistency of policy is also crucial to secure and maintain investments while reforms are being implemented.