Sustainable development indicators

These indicators assess the sustainability of the gas and electricity markets in Great Britain (GB). They are updated on a rolling basis, as data becomes available.

Drawn from a wide range of sources, they present a framework of information across three core themes:

  • Environmental impact
  • Social outcomes, bills and quality of service
  • Reliability and safety. 

These  are closely aligned to the outcomes we aim to deliver to make a positive difference for energy consumers, both today and in the future. You can find out more about the outcomes in our corporate strategy.

The indicators reflect our remit as the GB energy market regulator where possible, but in some cases we are only able to source data for the whole of the UK. 

Each indicator’s start date is determined by data availability or the relevant policy issues. 

We may review the indicators as additional performance measures become available.

Environmental impact

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Javascript is required to render chart Greenhouse gas emissions by sector (UK).

Source: DECC UK greenhouse gas emissions: final figures (Table 3).

Information correct as of: March 2016

This graph shows the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors, including power stations, since 1990. It excludes emissions generated overseas.

Policy Areas:

  • Business consumers
  • Domestic consumers

Data Table

Greenhouse gas emissions by sector (UK)
YearPower stationsOther energy supplyBusinessTransportPublicResidentialAgriculture and land use changeIndustrial processWaste Management
1990204741151221380596069
1995164741131221382585171
2000159621171271289522767
2005173571101301186452152
2008173501041271181411841
20091524991122978411235
201015849951201088411330
20111454788118967401127
20121594488118977391125
20131484291117977391321
20141244089118864401319

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Greenhouse gas emissions (UK): At-a-glance summary

The latest UK projections show that the UK is on track to meet the second (2013-2017) and third carbon budget (2018-2022). In 2014, UK emissions of the basket of seven greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol were estimated to be 514 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e). This was 8% lower than in 2013. 

Power stations were responsible for 24% of the UK greenhouse gas emissions in 2014, with carbon dioxide being by far the most prominent greenhouse gas for this sector. Between 1990 and 2014, there was a 39% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from power stations. This decrease has resulted mainly from changes in the mix of fuels being used for electricity generation. Since 1990 there has been a decline in the use of coal at power stations and an increase in the use of gas, which has a lower carbon content. 

Relevance 

The UK has a legally binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.

Analysis by the Committee on Climate Change shows that the power sector will need to be largely decarbonised by 2030 to meet the target cost effectively. This is crucial for the long term sustainability of our energy supply and to economy-wide decarbonisation, given the potential for electricity to provide a low-carbon fuel to other sectors.

Further information

UK power sectors include:

  • refineries, solid fuel manufacture and other energy industries
  • solid fuel transformation, coal mining and handling
  • exploration, production and transport of oils
  • power stations
  • flue gas de-sulphurisation and exploration, production and transport of gas
  • offshore oil and gas, including flaring and offshore oil and gas venting.
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Javascript is required to render chart Non-transport energy consumption by end use (UK).

This graph shows the types of activities that are driving UK energy consumption in the electricity and heating sectors. It shows non-transport energy consumption by end use converted to primary energy use (using relevant conversion factors).

Policy Areas:

  • Business consumers
  • Domestic consumers

Data Table

Non-transport energy consumption by end use (UK)
Space heatingWater Cooking/ CateringLighting/ AppliancesProcess useMotors/DriversDrying/SeparationOther
19905216623354516
20006218725284620
20106712627185319
20115413626175318
20126111626165318
20136311626175317

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Non-transport energy consumption (UK): At-a-glance summary

Overall, demand for non-transport energy fell by 7% between 1990 and 2013. Demand for space heating, which is mostly from the domestic sector, has increased since 1990 and made up 43% of (non-transport) energy demand in 2013. 

Relevance 

This graph shows where the demand for primary energy comes from, showing where increased energy efficiency, consumer awareness or demand-side response measures might be targeted.

Further information

Primary energy includes:

  • any losses incurred during the transformation process 
  • energy used by the energy industry, and
  • network losses.

It therefore gives a more complete picture of the energy use associated with different economic activities.

For end use definitions, see BEIS Energy consumption in the UK (2016).

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Javascript is required to render chart Electricity intensity (UK).

This graph shows the electricity intensity of the UK economy (electricity generated per unit of value added GDP). It provides one measure of the UK’s energy efficiency.

Policy Areas:

  • Electricity - wholesale markets

Data Table

Electricity intensity (UK)
YearElectricity Intensity
1980100.00
198198.51
198294.95
198392.94
198492.91
198594.45
198692.40
198787.66
198884.30
198983.57
199084.53
199186.37
199285.43
199383.70
199481.00
199581.06
199681.64
199779.10
199878.68
199976.93
200075.28
200175.74
200274.12
200372.80
200470.21
200569.04
200666.82
200765.17
200864.29
200964.68
201064.55
201160.70
201259.54
201357.93
201452.11

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Electricity intensity (UK): At-a-glance summary

Electricity intensity continues to fall. Decreases might be explained by a more efficient use of energy in production processes or by changes in the structure of the economy, for example the offshoring of heavy industry. 

Data for 2014 is provisional.

Relevance 

Electricity intensity captures the effectiveness of our efforts to reduce demand for electricity (per unit of output) from different sectors of the economy.

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Javascript is required to render chart Electricity supply mix by year and fuel source (UK).

Source: BEIS Energy Trends section 5: Electricity (ET 5.1).

Information correct as of: September 2016

This graph shows the electricity supply mix of the UK’s power sector from 1998 to 2015. It looks at electricity supply rather than electricity generation. It therefore includes net imports and is a net figure of electricity used in generation.

Policy Areas:

  • Electricity - wholesale markets

Data Table

Electricity supply mix by year and fuel source (UK)
FuelCoalGasNuclearRenewablesOther fuelsNet imports
19981171169181112
19991011408891014
20001151457891014
2001125139839810
2002118149811088
2003132145821082
2004126154741377
2005129149751688
2006141138691798
2007129162571885
20081181734820911
200998163632383
2010102172562473
2011103144633256
2012136986438512
2013124946450514
201495995860521
201572986479621

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Electricity supply mix (UK): At-a-glance summary

The contribution of low carbon generation (renewable and nuclear) was 42% (143 TWh) in 2015 and has grown from 28% (98 TWh) in 1998. This share is expected to increase over the coming years; partly due to replacing ageing infrastructure under the Large Combustion Plant Directive, and to help meet our decarbonisation targets. 

Relevance 

Projections from the Committee on Climate Change show that the power sector will be need to be largely decarbonised by 2030 to meet the target cost effectively. This will require a significant change to the UK’s electricity supply mix, with low carbon sources of energy increasingly replacing more traditional fossil fuel based generation.

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Source: BEIS DUKES data (Renewable sources of energy: Chapter 6 - Table 6.4) .

Information correct as of: September 2016

This graph shows the total contribution of renewable fuel sources towards the UK’s electricity generation. 

Policy Areas:

  • Electricity - wholesale markets

Data Table

Proportion of total electricity generated from renewable fuel sources (UK)
Fuel sourceOnshore windOffshore windSolar photovoltaicsHydroLandfill gasPlant BiomassOther
19960.1%0.0%0.0%1.0%0.2%0.0%0.3%
19970.2%0.0%0.0%1.2%0.3%0.0%0.3%
19980.2%0.0%0.0%1.4%0.3%0.0%0.4%
19990.2%0.0%0.0%1.4%0.5%0.0%0.5%
20000.3%0.0%0.0%1.3%0.6%0.0%0.4%
20010.2%0.0%0.0%1.1%0.7%0.1%0.5%
20020.3%0.0%0.0%1.2%0.7%0.1%0.5%
20030.3%0.0%0.0%0.8%0.8%0.1%0.6%
20040.4%0.1%0.0%1.2%1.0%0.1%0.8%
20050.6%0.1%0.0%1.2%1.1%0.1%1.1%
20060.9%0.2%0.0%1.2%1.1%0.1%1.1%
20071.1%0.2%0.0%1.3%1.2%0.2%1.0%
20081.5%0.3%0.0%1.3%1.2%0.2%1.0%
20092.0%0.5%0.0%1.4%1.3%0.4%1.2%
20101.9%0.8%0.0%0.9%1.3%0.4%1.4%
20112.9%1.4%0.1%1.5%1.4%0.5%1.7%
20123.4%2.1%0.4%1.5%1.4%1.1%1.5%
20134.7%3.2%0.6%1.3%1.4%2.5%1.1%
20145.5%4.0%1.2%1.7%1.5%3.9%1.3%
20156.7%5.1%2.2%1.9%1.4%5.5%1.7%

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Renewable electricity generation (UK): At-a-glance summary

Electricity generation from renewable fuel sources increased by around 29% between 2014 and 2015, reaching 83.6TWh. Around 25% of the UK’s electricity came from renewable sources in 2015.

The overall renewable energy target includes heating and transport sectors. The UK’s National Renewable Energy Action Plan suggests that our overall target could be achieved with around 30% of energy demand coming from renewables. This assumes that the heat and transport sectors increase their proportion of energy consumption coming from renewables to 12% and 10% respectively.

Relevance 

The UK has legally committed to meeting 15% of the UK’s energy demand from renewable sources by 2020. Achieving this will help us to reach the UK’s carbon reduction objectives. Renewables will also have a crucial role to play in the UK energy mix in the decades beyond.

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Source: BEIS DUKES data (Renewable sources of energy: Chapter 6 – Table 6.7) .

Information correct as of: September 2016

This graph shows the percentage of domestic and non-domestic heating and cooling energy consumption from renewable sources since 2004.  

Policy Areas:

  • Electricity - wholesale markets

Data Table

Proportion of heating and cooling energy consumed from renewable sources (UK)
YearProportion of heating and cooling energy from renewable sources
20040.7%
20050.8%
20060.9%
20071.1%
20082.0%
20092.4%
20102.7%
20113.1%
20123.3%
20134.1%
20144.8%
20155.6%

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Heating and cooling energy consumed from renewable sources (UK): At-a-glance summary

Renewable sources formed about 5.6% of total heating and cooling consumption in the UK in 2015, and this proportion has been growing since 2004, when renewable sources accounted for just 0.7% of heating and cooling consumption.

Figures published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) indicate the uptake of renewable heat technologies has been relatively low in the non-domestic sector in the past. However, the numbers are increasing now that renewable heat incentive support is available. The value of waste heat is also becoming more pronounced, as innovative ways of recycling it have been introduced.

Relevance 

DECC’s analysis showed that nearly half of the energy we use in the UK is used for heating of one sort or another. Energy is defined as UK energy consumption including heat. Of the total of 906 TWh of natural gas consumed in the UK in 2011, 52% was used to provide heat for buildings and industry. This compares to the 34% burned in power stations to make electricity.

The Carbon Plan (p39) explained that by 2050 carbon emissions from heating and cooling buildings will need to be nearly zero to meet the overall target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80%. This means finding less carbon intensive ways over the long-term to heat not just those buildings which rely on oil or coal, but also all those currently using natural gas (the majority of homes and buildings).

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Source: DEFRA National atmospheric emissions inventory.

Information correct as of: December 2016

This graph shows the total sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions in kilotonnes from UK power stations since 1990. Particulate matter is not included as these emissions are significantly smaller than SO2 and NOx.

Policy Areas:

  • Electricity - wholesale markets
  • Gas - wholesale markets

Data Table

Power station emissions: Sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) (UK and Gibraltar)
YearSO2 from power stationsNOX from power stations
19902732778
19912537678
19922436664
19932112577
19941768521
19951593488
19961324441
19971028362
19981077356
1999777317
2000827349
2001744374
2002681360
2003676393
2004510372
2005387388
2006362405
2007287375
2008214293
2009161258
2010173249
2011167235
2012227286
2013176271
2014121221

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Power station emissions (SO2 and NOx): At-a-glance summary

Emissions in the UK and Gibraltar have been falling steadily since 1990, reaching new lows in 2014. Emissions of both SO2 and NOx in 2014 were 31% and 18% lower respectively compared to 2013.The decrease in emissions between 2013 and 2014 was due to a reduction in the market price of natural gas leading to less coal being used for power generation. Also, some coal-powered power stations reached the end of their working lifetime and were decommissioned, reducing the overall coal-burning capacity (DEFRA (2015)).

Relevance 

The EU Large Combustion Plants Directive aims to reduce acidification, ground level ozone and particles from power stations throughout Europe by controlling emissions of SO2, NOx and dust (particulate matter). These pollutants are major contributors to acid deposition, which acidifies soil and freshwater bodies, damages plants and aquatic habitats, and corrodes building materials. NOx reacts with volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight to form ozone that can adversely affect human health and ecosystems.

SO2, NOx and particles can travel long distances from their sources before being deposited onto land, surface waters or oceans, or forming ozone. Therefore, emissions from the UK contribute to pollution problems in other Member States, while Germany, Netherlands, France, Ireland and Belgium are the principal external contributors to sulphur and nitrogen deposition in the UK.

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Source: Ofgem DNO regulatory data submissions.

Information correct as of: October 2016

The undergrounding scheme for distribution network operators (DNOs) allows funding through price controls for the undergrounding of existing overhead lines in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks and National Scenic Areas. This graph shows the cumulative total amount of overhead lines that have been replaced by underground cables under this undergrounding allowance since 2006.

Policy Areas:

  • Electricity - distribution

Data Table

Undergrounding in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks (GB)
YearOverhead lines replaced by underground cables (km)
2006/200714
2007/200848
2008/2009125
2009/2010223
2010/2011248
2011/2012295
2012/2013354
2013/2014402
2014/2015507
2015/2016541

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Undergrounding (GB): At-a-glance summary

Distribution Network Operators have replaced a significant number of overhead lines with underground cables under the undergrounding allowance since 2006/07.

The previous price control, DPCR5 (2010-15), had an undergrounding budget of £61 million; and the current RIIO-ED1 (2015-23) price control has a budget of £104 million. You can find out more about the scheme in our visual amenity factsheet

Relevance 

Ofgem has a range of powers and duties including our principal objective to protect the interests of existing and future consumers. We also have statutory duties which include having regard to the purposes of National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty as well as to conserving biodiversity. The undergrounding scheme is an important part of visual amenity in distribution networks in these areas.

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Source: DEFRA ENV15 water abstraction tables.

Information correct as of: January 2016

This graph shows the main sources of demand for water abstracted from non-tidal surface and groundwater in England and Wales. This water is generally returned to the environment.

Policy Areas:

  • Electricity - wholesale markets

Data Table

Water abstracted for electricity generation (England and Wales)
YearElectricity generationPublic water supplyOther
2000509462193751
2005364963403001
2010434159552105
2011390158171695
2012571058282209
2013636558681887
2014533257542070

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Water abstracted for electricity generation (England and Wales): At-a-glance summary

The abstraction of water from non-tidal surface water and groundwater in England and Wales had fallen steadily from an estimated 15.1 billion cubic metres in 2000 to 11.4 billion cubic metres in 2011. The 2013 data showed an increase to 14.1 billion cubic metres,  and data for abstraction in 2014 shows a reduction to 13.2 billion cubic metres, a decrease of  7 per cent.

Forty-one per cent of water abstracted from non-tidal surface water and groundwater in 2014 was for the electricity generation industry. The main reason for the overall decrease in abstraction between 2013 and 2014 is the fall in the level of abstractions for electricity generation.

Relevance 

Water is a vital resource that needs to be managed carefully to ensure both that people have access to affordable and safe drinking water and sanitation, and that industry needs are met, without depleting water resources or damaging ecosystems. 

Further information

Water abstraction means removing water from water-bodies. These include lakes, rivers or aquifers. Most water abstraction needs a licence from the Environment Agency.

 

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Social outcomes, bills and quality of service

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Source: DECC Household Energy Efficiency National Statistics.

Information correct as of: August 2016

This graph shows the number of homes benefitting from cavity wall, loft or solid wall insulation, presented as a percentage of all homes for which that measure would be suitable (eg only homes with solid walls). It excludes other energy efficiency measures such as double glazing and boiler installations.

Policy Areas:

  • Domestic consumers

Data Table

Proportion of domestic households benefitting from insulation by installed measures (GB)
Cavity wall insulationLoft insulation >=125mmSolid wall insulation
December 200854.6%44.5%0.9%
December 200958.4%49.6%1.1%
December 201061.3%55.1%1.3%
December 201164.7%60.2%1.5%
December 201268.7%67.4%2.6%
December 201370.2%68.3%2.9%
December 201472.6%69.7%3.7%
December 201573.7%70.4%4.5%

More information

Households benefiting from insulation (GB): At-a-glance summary

The percentage of homes benefiting from cavity wall and loft insulation has been growing steadily with the December 2015 figures at 74% and 70% respectively. The figures for solid wall insulation have also increased but remain very low with around 5% of homes benefiting from insulation, reflecting the fact that solid wall insulation tends to be less cost effective.

Relevance

The Department of Energy and Climate Change report that if no energy efficiency gains had been made since 1970, current energy use would be almost double their current levels, adding about £1,000 to the average annual energy bill. Energy efficiency will continue to have a role in driving long term reductions in household energy bills.

Good insulation can help to reduce overall demand for energy and can play a key role in delivering the UK’s carbon budgets. Energy efficiency is also one of the central pillars of the government’s efforts to tackle fuel poverty. 

Improving the energy efficiency of the home is often the most cost-effective way of making a sustained reduction in household heating costs and helping to remove that household from fuel poverty.

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Source: Supplier performance on social obligations.

Information correct as of: September 2016

This graph shows the number of domestic customer accounts in debt on their gas and electricity bills in Great Britain, presented as a percentage of total customer accounts between Q3 2012 and Q1 2016.

Policy Areas:

  • Domestic consumers

Data Table

Proportion of total domestic customer accounts in debt by fuel type (GB)
ElectricityGas
2012 Q35.2%5.5%
2012 Q45.1%5.4%
2013 Q15.5%5.8%
2013 Q25.8%6.5%
2013 Q35.8%6.5%
2013 Q45.7%6.2%
2014 Q15.2%5.7%
2014 Q25.4%5.8%
2014 Q35.3%5.7%
2014 Q45.1%5.3%
2015 Q14.9%5.1%
2015 Q24.9%5.1%
2015 Q34.8%5.0%
2015 Q44.5%4.7%
2016 Q14.5%4.6%

More information

At–a-glance summary

This graph shows the number of domestic customer accounts in debt on their gas and electricity bills in Great Britain, presented as a percentage of total customer accounts between Q3 2012 and Q1 2016. It includes customer accounts repaying a debt through a formal debt repayment arrangement and customers who are in arrears, i.e. not yet on a formal debt repayment arrangement.

Methodology

A customer is in arrears if they have not paid a bill for longer than 91 days/13 weeks, and have not yet set up a debt repayment arrangement. A debt repayment arrangement is an arrangement to repay debts which lasts more than 91 days/13 weeks.

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Source: Ofgem calculations (ONS family spending data).

Information correct as of: December 2015

This graph shows the percentage of total household expenditure spent on energy. Total household expenditure includes housing costs and energy spend refers to spend on electricity, gas and other fuels. It gives figures for households in the lowest and highest 10% of incomes, as well as an average figure for all UK households.

Policy Areas:

  • Domestic consumers

Data Table

Energy spend as a percentage of total household expenditure (UK)
YearLowest 10%Highest 10%All households
199311.6%3.0%4.8%
199410.9%3.0%4.6%
199510.3%2.8%4.5%
19969.9%2.8%4.3%
19979.1%2.5%3.9%
19987.0%2.1%3.3%
19996.5%2.0%3.2%
20006.8%2.0%3.1%
20015.9%1.9%2.9%
20025.7%1.9%2.9%
20035.6%1.9%2.9%
20045.5%2.0%2.9%
20055.8%2.1%3.1%
20066.6%2.4%3.5%
20076.4%2.6%3.7%
20088.4%2.7%4.0%
20098.5%3.0%4.7%
20107.3%3.1%4.5%
20117.8%3.1%4.6%
20127.8%3.2%4.7%
201310.6%3.3%5.1%
201410.0%3.2%4.9%

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Energy spend as a percentage household expenditure: At-a-glance summary

In 2014, UK households were spending on average 5% of their total expenditure on energy, up from around 3% in 2004. In 2014, households in the lowest income decile spent approximately 10% of their total expenditure on energy, up from approximately 5% ten years earlier. However, while average share of energy spend in household budgets has increased since 2004, in 2014 it was at a similar level to that in 1994.

Relevance 

Energy is an essential service required for health and wellbeing. Consuming below the level of accepted thermal comfort may have serious health consequences, while worrying about how to meet fuel bills can also have psychological effects

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Source: Supplier complaints data.

Information correct as of: August 2016

This graph shows the number of complaints per 100,000 customer accounts made to the six largest energy companies, as reported by the companies. The number of complaints is shown as an average across the six companies, weighted by the number of customer accounts that each company has. Complaints are defined as any expression of dissatisfaction. Since April 2013, most of the small and medium sized suppliers have also published data on customer complaints.

You can also view complaints per 100,000 customer accounts broken down by company, for both large and independent suppliers. See supplier performance on consumer complaints.

Policy Areas:

  • Domestic consumers

Data Table

Complaints received by the large suppliers per 100,000 customer accounts (GB)
Complaints per 100,000 customer accounts
2008 Q4 2,438
2009 Q1 2,580
2009 Q2 2,293
2009 Q3 2,271
2009 Q4 2,464
2010 Q1 2,578
2010 Q2 2,513
2010 Q3 2,670
2010 Q4 2,189
2011 Q1 2,146
2011 Q2 1,978
2011 Q3 2,452
2011 Q4 2,773
2012 Q1 3,378
2012 Q2 3,018
2012 Q3 2,910
2012 Q4 3,024
2013 Q1 3,116
2013 Q2 2,847
2013 Q3 2,682
2013 Q4 3,176
2014 Q1 3,747
2014 Q2 3,638
2014 Q3 3,404
2014 Q4 3,566
2015 Q1 3,599
2015 Q2 2,905
2015 Q3 2,631
2015 Q4 2,117
2016 Q1 1,971
2016 Q2 1,869

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Complaints per 100,000 customer accounts (GB): At-a-glance summary

The number of complaints made to the six largest suppliers has declined from a peak in Q1 2014 of 3,747 per 100,000 customer accounts. In Q2 2016 the number of complaints made per 100,000 customer accounts across the six large suppliers was 1,869, which compares with 2,905 complaints per 100,000 customer accounts in Q2 2015, a decrease of 36%.

Relevance 

Customer service is a major issue for energy consumers. To help increase the visibility of supplier performance on complaints handling we require suppliers to publish quarterly complaints information on their websites. To facilitate consumers viewing and comparing performance, Ofgem publishes quarterly complaints handling figures, as reported by the companies. 

View the latest figures at supplier performance on consumer complaints.

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Javascript is required to render chart Number of households in fuel poverty by year (UK).

Source: DECC Annual fuel poverty statistics report 2015 .

Information correct as of: May 2015

This graph shows the total number of households in fuel poverty in the UK. The graph shows the 10% measure of fuel poverty for the UK between 2003 and 2013. Under this measure, a household is considered fuel poor if it is spending more than 10% of its income on fuel to achieve adequate standards of warmth. 

Policy Areas:

  • Domestic consumers

Data Table

Number of households in fuel poverty by year (UK)
YearNumber of households in fuel poverty (millions)
2003 1.7
2004 1.6
2005 1.9
2006 2.7
2007 3.2
2008 3.8
2009 4.5
2010 4.1
2011 4
2012 4.1
2013 4.4

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Households in fuel poverty (UK): At-a-glance summary

Using the 10% measure, around 4.4 million households (17%) were in fuel poverty in the UK in 2013. This is a small increase from 2012 levels of one percentage point. The number of fuel poor households in 2013 was down from the 2009 peak of 4.5 million but still significantly higher than the low of 1.6 million households recorded in 2004. The effect of energy price rises during 2005 to 2009 outweighed the impact of increasing incomes and energy efficiency measures, resulting in the growing number of fuel poor households. In 2010 fuel poverty fell for the first time since 2004, due to rising energy efficiency standards, particularly among lower income households, and a fall in fuel prices. However, in 2011 fuel prices began to rise again and by 2013 fuel poverty had increased to around 4.4 million households. 

Relevance

Energy is an essential service required for health and wellbeing. Difficulty affording fuel bills can have a number of effects on households, including living in a cold home to reduce energy costs and limiting spending on other essentials, such as food. Low temperatures at home can exacerbate existing health problems and create new ones, while worrying about how to meet fuel bills can also have psychological effects. 

The new Fuel Poverty Strategy (March 2015) requires the government to tackle fuel poverty by making the coldest, leakiest homes in England more energy efficient. A new legally binding target, in force since December 2014, requires a minimum standard of energy efficiency (Band C) for as many fuel poor homes as reasonably practicable by 2030. 

Further information

'Adequate standards of warmth' are typically defined as 21oC for the main living area, and 18oC for other occupied rooms. Scotland has an additional heating regime for vulnerable people which is defined as 23oC for living rooms and 18oC for other rooms.

Different approaches to measuring fuel poverty are used across the UK. In July 2013, the government adopted the low income high costs definition of fuel poor for England. Under this definition, a household is considered to be fuel poor if: 

  • they have required fuel costs that are above average (the national median level). 
  • were they to spend that amount, they would be left with a residual income below the official poverty line. 

Prior to July 2013 fuel poverty was measured using the 10% measure. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland continue to use the 10% measure of fuel poverty.
For the purpose of showing an aggregated picture for the UK over time, here we show fuel poverty estimates using the 10% measure.

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Source: Ofgem.

Information correct as of: March 2016

This graph shows the total numbers of households that have benefited from gas connections under the Fuel Poor Network Extensions Scheme since its launch in 2009. 

Policy Areas:

  • Domestic consumers
  • Gas - distribution

Data Table

Fuel Poor Network Extensions scheme: Households connected to gas network (GB)
YearConnections
2009/105411
2010/1111496
2011/1214671
2012/1312037
2013/1414764
2014/1512519

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Fuel Poor Network Extensions scheme: Households connected to gas network (GB): At-a-glance summary

The graph shows that gas distribution networks (GDNs) delivered approximately 71,000 connections between 2009/10 and 2014/15.

In 2014/15, the second year of RIIO-GD1 price control, 12,519 households were connected to the gas grid compared with 5,411 in 2009/10 in GDPCR1. Companies have predicted that they will connect more than the required 77,000 households by the end of RIIO-GD1. We took  this into account in our review of the scheme and have concluded that gas network companies must now resubmit their plans for us to consider connection numbers for the scheme for the period 2016 to 2021. We concluded our review of the scheme in September 2015. We made a few changes to the eligibility criteria for the scheme, with effect 1st April 2016.

We are also considering whether GDNs should be incentivised to deliver a higher target and how to extend the scheme to support district heating to assist more vulnerable and low income households. In December 2015, we introduced a fuel poor incentive mechanism to exceed their targets set for RIIO-GD1.

Relevance 

Using our price control mechanisms for gas distribution companies (GDPCR1 and RIIO-GD1) we have provided for a mechanism called the Fuel Network Extension Scheme. This enables eligible households to switch to natural gas by helping towards the cost of connecting to the gas network. The scheme is delivered by gas distribution companies and in administering it, they need to work with partner organisations we approve. 

We believe the scheme is an essential tool to help combat fuel poverty by supporting those on low incomes and in other vulnerable situations.  Gas consistently remains one of the least expensive sources of energy, however not every household is connected to the gas network. Getting connected to the grid and having access to gas can make a real difference in the quality of living standards for low income and vulnerable consumers. 

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Reliability and safety

Chart

Javascript is required to render chart Average minutes lost per gas consumer (GB).

Source: Gas distribution network regulatory reporting pack annual submissions.

Information correct as of: October 2016

This graph shows the average minutes lost of gas supply per consumer per year in Great Britain. It provides a sense of the level of reliability that network companies are achieving.

Policy Areas:

  • Gas - distribution

Data Table

Average minutes lost per gas consumer (GB)
Minutes lost per consumer (planned)Minutes lost per consumer (unplanned)
2006/078.003.51
2007/089.653.18
2008/098.068.35
2009/108.775.61
2010/119.014.24
2011/1211.324.54
2012/139.134.70
2013/149.414.99
2014/158.025.70
2015/167.076.04

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Average minutes lost per gas consumer (GB): At-a-glance summary

For gas, planned interruptions are fairly stable from year to year due to the ongoing mains replacement works the gas distribution networks (GDNs) are required to undertake. Further information on trends for planned and unplanned interruptions will be published in the RIIO-GD1 annual report early next year.

Relevance

Energy is an essential service and consumers need a reliable and continuous gas supply to power and heat their homes and businesses because there is no easy alternative.

Further information

For gas, planned interruptions are necessary as part of a 30 year programme to replace old metallic mains and services with polyethylene (PE) pipes. To deliver the replacement programme GDNs have to switch off a customer’s gas supply for at least a few hours when replacing the gas main in their street. The outcome of this replacement programme will lead to a more reliable and safe network with reduced emissions. Unplanned interruptions occur as a result of emergency response to network failures, damage to network assets, capacity-related network failures and upstream gas supply failures. Companies have some influence over the performance of network assets and third party activities, and specific measures may lead towards measurable performance improvement.

Under RIIO-GD1 companies are incentivised to deliver a good level of customer service, which includes a measure of how well they deal with customers as part of any planned or unplanned interruptions. Where they perform better than set targets they are rewarded, and if they fall below this level they are penalised.

The target is based on the GDN upper quartile performance during the trial customer satisfaction survey that took place prior to RIIO-GD1. Results of the survey can be found in the RIIO-GD1 annual report 2013/14 (p29).

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Chart

Javascript is required to render chart Average minutes lost per electricity consumer (GB) .

Source: Distribution network operator regulatory data submissions.

Information correct as of: March 2016

This graph shows the average minutes lost of electricity supply per consumer per year in Great Britain. It gives a sense of the level of reliability that network companies are achieving. However, the vast majority of consumers do not experience any electricity supply interruptions (defined as being a loss of supply for three minutes or longer) during the course of a year or even over several years.

Policy Areas:

  • Electricity - distribution

Data Table

Average minutes lost per electricity consumer (GB)
Consumer minutes lost excluding exceptional eventsConsumer minutes lost due to exceptional events
2001/0281.662.03
2002/0381.2829.10
2003/0476.594.52
2004/0568.6425.65
2005/0665.553.61
2006/0778.0322.07
2007/0874.227.72
2008/0973.432.26
2009/1070.0211.40
2010/1167.952.07
2011/1255.4312.62
2012/1354.716.31
2013/1453.2239.29
2014/1544.865.85

More information

Average minutes lost per electricity consumer (GB): At-a-glance summary

For electricity distribution, the average minutes lost continue to fall and are now below the 2001 levels.

Relevance 

Energy is an essential service and consumers need a reliable and continuous electricity and gas supply to power and heat their homes and businesses because there is no easy alternative.

Further information

For electricity, the Interruptions Incentive Scheme (IIS) is the main financial incentive to ensure that electricity distribution network operators (DNO) manage the number and duration of interruptions on their networks effectively. Unplanned interruptions occur as a result of inclement weather, damage to network assets, or activity due to third parties (including animals).

Unplanned interruptions can also occur during ‘exceptional events’. These are times of particularly severe weather, or activity by a third party that is beyond the control of the DNO. For an event to be classed as ‘exceptional’ it has to pass pre-determined thresholds.

Planned interruptions can occur for safety reasons or to upgrade parts of the network. Targets are set for each individual DNO. If a DNO does not meet their target, they are penalised through a reduction to the amount they can charge their customers. There is also Quality of Service Guaranteed Standards in electricity which must be met by each DNO.

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Chart

Javascript is required to render chart Estimated substation flood risk scenarios (GB).

Source: DNO regulatory data submissions.

Information correct as of: March 2016

This graph shows the projected flood risk profile (in terms of customers supplied by substations of GB substations) over a 10 year period. Different reporting methods mean that some figures are estimated.

An earlier version of the chart included forecast data. We have decided not to use the forecasts and present data on actual figures only due to the changing nature of the forecast data and to reflect the work that is being actually carried out by DNOs.

Policy Areas:

  • Electricity - distribution

Data Table

Estimated substation flood risk scenarios (GB)
Probability1/1001/2001/1000
Starting point54%11%36%
201147%12%41%
201242%14%44%
201336%15%49%
201422%12%66%
201519%13%68%

More information

Estimated substation flood risk scenarios (GB): At-a-glance summary

The graph shows that, over time, GB-wide substation resilience to flooding is improving. The number of substations in the ‘1/100’ risk category is reducing, which corresponds to an increase in the number of substations in the ‘1/1000’ category.

Relevance 

Flooding is a major resilience and climate change adaptation risk for the electricity network, particularly to electricity substations. The Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) have established programmes of work to improve substation resilience to flooding. This is funded through price controls. The costs associated with flood mitigation are dependent on development that occurs on floodplains, which is outside of DNOs’ control and can vary significantly between DNOs.

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Publications and updates

  • Published: 10th Jan 2017
  • Open letters & correspondence
  • 1 Associated documents
This letter to the Secretary of State sets out how Ofgem has helped the government make progress towards the aims and targets in the Social and Environmental Guidance in 2016.

  • Published: 1st Sep 2016
  • Data and statistics
  • 1 Associated documents
This infographic presents a summary of the Sustainable Development Indicators (SDIs). The indicators assess the sustainability of the gas and electricity markets in Great Britain.

  • Published: 30th Sep 2014
  • Open letters & correspondence
  • 1 Associated documents
This letter to the Secretary of State sets out how Ofgem has helped the government make progress towards the aims and targets in the Social and Environmental Guidance in 2013-14.

  • Published: 6th Feb 2014
  • Data and statistics
  • 10 Associated documents
This is the third theme of our Sustainable Development indicator documents, illustrating the progress of Ofgem and the energy sector towards our sustainable development objectives. This version was published in February 2014.

  • Published: 6th Feb 2014
  • Data and statistics
  • 10 Associated documents
This is the fourth theme of our Sustainable Development indicator documents, illustrating the progress of Ofgem and the energy sector towards our sustainable development objectives. This version was published in February 2014.

  • Published: 17th Dec 2013
  • Data and statistics
  • 7 Associated documents
This is the first theme of our Sustainable Development indicator documents, illustrating the progress of Ofgem and the energy sector towards our sustainable development objectives. This version was published in December 2013.

  • Published: 17th Dec 2013
  • Data and statistics
  • 6 Associated documents
This is the second theme of our Sustainable Development indicator documents, illustrating the progress of Ofgem and the energy sector towards our sustainable development objectives. This version was published in December 2013.

  • Published: 1st Aug 2013
  • Open letters & correspondence
  • 1 Associated documents
This letter to the Secretary of State sets out how Ofgem has helped the government make progress towards the aims and targets in the Social and Environmental Guidance in 2012-13.

  • Published: 19th Feb 2013
  • Reports & plans
  • 3 Associated documents
This is the fifth theme of our Sustainable Development indicator documents, illustrating the progress of Ofgem and the energy sector towards our sustainable development objectives. This version was published in February 2013.

  • Published: 12th Jul 2012
  • Reports & plans
  • 1 Associated documents
Sustainable Development Focus is Ofgem’s annual round up of our contribution to sustainable development. This sits alongside our set of themed indicator publications, which together form our sustainable development reporting package.

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