Infographic: Bills, prices and profits

Publication date
27th May 2021
Information types
Policy areas

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Bills, prices and profits infographic - plain-text version

Facts and figures on Britain's energy market, larger supplier prices and profits, energy bills and switching.

What makes up Britain's energy market?

The full rollout of competition in the energy market began in the late 90s. As of December 2020, 52 active suppliers compete in the domestic energy market. Of these, 45 provide both gas and electricity, 5 solely supply gas and 2 solely electricity.

Domestic market shares - Gas

  • 70% - large legacy suppliers*
  • 30% - other suppliers

Domestic market shares - Electricity

  • 70% - large legacy suppliers
  • 30% - other suppliers

In 2009, we told energy companies they must publish annual statements (CSS) showing separately their revenues, costs and profits for how they generate and supply energy so profits are clearer for consumers.

*Large legacy are: BG, OVO, E.ON, EDF, npower, Scottish Power.

Prices and profits of the larger energy suppliers

The latest numbers show:

Year Wholesale costs Direct costs Network costs Environmental/Social costs Other direct costs Operating costs EBIT VAT Bill
2009 621 290       132 8 52 1095
2010 588 280       160 35 53 1116
2011 537 287       152 30 50 1057
2012 612 347       161 53 59 1232
2013 628   276 109 0 163 49 61 1286
2014 532   278 100 5 166 51 57 1190
2015 506   279 86 7 182 49 55 1165
2016 425   292 91 13 193 54 53 1123
2017 404   284 108 14 205 49 53 1117
2018 445   281 134 16 217 33 56 1184
2019 464   279 153 18 216 -16 56 1171

Data based on realised costs, as reported by the six larger energy companies in their annual consolidated segmental statements 2019.

What makes up your energy bill?

Breakdown of a dual fuel bill:

Annual Cost Percentage
Wholesale costs 39.66%
Network costs 23.84%
Operating costs 18.48%
Environmental and social obligation costs 13.05%
VAT 4.76%
Supplier pre-tax margin -1.33%
Other direct costs 1.53%

Breakdown of gas bill:

Annual cost Percentage
Wholesale costs 46.24%
Networks 25.64%
Operating costs 20.41%
Environmental and social obligation costs 1.86%
VAT 4.76%
Supplier pre-tax margin -0.49%
Other direct costs 1.58%

Breakdown of an electricity fuel bill:

Annual cost Percentage
Wholesale costs 33.87%
Network costs 22.26%
Operating costs 16.77%
Environmental and social obligation costs 22.92%
VAT 4.76%
Supplier pre-tax margin -2.07%
Other direct costs 1.48%

Average available tariffs

At April 2021:

  • Standard variable tarriff around £1,138 per year1
  • Cheapest tarriff basket around £921 per year2

1. Based on average of dual fuel, direct debit and available paper tariffs from the large legacy suppliers at May 2021. A price cap applied to these tariffs from January 2019.

2. Based on the simple average of the 10 cheapest tariffs offered by suppliers in the market (one tariff per supplier). Where each tariff is based on the dual fuel average available paperless tariff paid by direct debit with typical domestic consumption values at May 2021.

How do UK prices compare with Europe?

UK ranks below average on gas prices and around average on electricity prices.

Average domestic gas price (medium user)

Country Pence/kWh
Netherlands 8.7
Sweden 8.6
France 6.9
Denmark 6.6
Italy 6.4
Spain 6.3
Ireland 5.9
Austria 5.7
Portugal 5.6
Germany 5.2
Slovenia 5.1
Czech Republic 5.0
Belgium 4.3
UK 4.2
Greece 4.2
Slovakia 4.0
Estonia 3.9
Poland 3.7
Luxembourg 3.6
Bulgaria 3.5
Croatia 3.4
Lithuania 3.2
Romania 2.8
Hungary 2.8
Latvia 2.8

Average UK domestic gas price (incl. taxes) for medium user customer for period January to June 2020 is below the median EU price.*

Average domestic electricity price (medium user)

Country Pence/kWh
Germany 26.6
Denmark 24.8
Belgium 24.4
Ireland 21.1
Spain 19.6
Italy 19.5
UK 19.3
Cyprus 18.7
Portugal 18.5
Austria 18.4
Luxembourg 17.4
France 16.6
Czech Republic 16.1
Sweden 16.0
Finland 15.2
Slovakia 14.7
Greece 14.7
Poland 12.9
Romania 12.8
Slovenia 12.7
Netherlands 12.5
Lithuania 12.5
Latvia 12.4
Croatia 11.4
Malta 11.2
Estonia 10.8
Hungary 9.0
Bulgaria 8.7

Average UK domestic electricity price (incl. taxes) for medium user customer for period January to June 2020 is above the median EU price.*

*Source: Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

When it comes to energy shopping...

For January - March 2021:

  • 959 thousand gas customers switched
  • 1.3 million electricity customers switched
  • 339 thousand moved from large legacy to other suppliers for gas (net gain)
  • 434 thousand moved from large legacy to other suppliers for electricity (net gain) 

During this time 33% of total switches across both fuels moved to other suppliers (net gain).

Further data sources: Market structure and share figures from Distribution Network Operator and Xoserve data. Prices and profits of the large legacy suppliers from Ofgem Consolidated Segmental Statements. Average available tariffs calculated from EnergyHelpline data. Figures based on dual fuel tariffs paid by direct debit (Typical domestic consumption values as of 1st April 2020: 12,000kWh for gas and 2,900kWh for electricity). Average variable tariffs based on dual fuel direct debit standard variable tariffs available from the large legacy suppliers. UK/Europe price comparison figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Switching figures to other suppliers are calculated taking the gross gains for other suppliers then subtracting the losses to calculate a net gains value. Ofgem switching figures calculated from Network Operator data accounting for total number of meters for fuel type.

Information correct at May 2021.

Behind the numbers

You can find fuller historical data and information on how Britain's energy market is structured, larger supplier prices and profits, energy bills and customer switching via the following links:

Terms explained

Who are the larger energy suppliers?open key term pop-up |  Dual Fuel (DF)open key term pop-upWholesale costsopen key term pop-upNetwork costsopen key term pop-upSupplier operating costsopen key term pop-upEnvironmental and social costsopen key term pop-upPre-tax marginopen key term pop-upSwitchingopen key term pop-up

Who are the larger energy suppliers?

The "Big Six" is the name sometimes collectively given to the six larger energy companies who supply most of Britain's gas and electricity. Each of them generate electricity, and deliver both gas and electricity to our homes and businesses. They are:

- Centrica plc (three retail brands: British Gas, Scottish Gas and Nwy Prydain in England, Scotland and Wales respectively)
- E.ON UK
- Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE)
- RWE npower
- ... more

Dual Fuel (DF)

A type of energy contract where a customer takes gas and electricity from the same supplier (or two affiliated suppliers).

Wholesale costs

This is the amount energy companies pay to buy gas and electricity which they then sell to you. They may buy from the wholesale market, have a contract with an electricity generator, or be part of a company generating its own energy. Wholesale gas is often bought in advance. If suppliers don't buy enough, they may have to buy more which can be at a higher price depending on the market.

Network costs

These include the costs to build, maintain and operate the gas pipes and electricity wires run by the network companies who transport energy to your property. 

Suppliers are charged by network companies for this, and pass on this cost to their customers. We limit network costs carefully though price controls. This is because you can't normally choose which network company you use. You can find out more at more

Supplier operating costs

These are the costs associated with running a retail energy business, including sales, metering and billing.

Environmental and social costs

These are the costs of government programmes to save energy, reduce emissions and encourage take up of renewable energy. They also include the cost of social programmes like the Warm Homes Discount.

Find out more about these at Environmental programmes

Pre-tax margin

This is the difference between the money an energy company receives from their customers and the costs they have to deliver that energy. The ‘margin’ is not just the profit energy companies make. This is because they must pay tax and fund debt payments plus other obligated costs from this money. 

Switching

The process of changing gas or electricity supplier, or changing to a new tariff with the same supplier.