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54% of energy used to supply electricity wasted

Britain’s electricity system wastes £9.5bn though the loss of energy before it reaches homes and businesses, a report has found.

Less Waste, More Growth: Boosting energy productivity was published by a coalition of 14 organisations including those that represent industrial manufacturers such as EEF and Greenpeace.

It calls for an increase in government ambition on energy productivity and sets out three recommendations to transform the waste into a growth opportunity.

The analysis, led by the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE), identified the total loss of energy was worth the equivalent of £354 per household, more than half the average household’s annual electricity bill (£592).

This waste equals the power generated by 37 nuclear power stations, a landmass the size of England of bioenergy crops or wind turbines covering 40% of Scotland.

The report outlined a number of immediate ways of reducing this waste, which could save the equivalent of £116 for every householder’s energy bill – a total of over £3bn a year.

Findings included:

  • In the public systems inherited from the 1960s and 70s, less than 10% of power stations currently recover waste heat, which represents a missed opportunity to save £2bn annually.
  • The equivalent of £23 per household could be saved just by upgrading the electricity network’s efficiency to match that of Germany’s.
  • Appropriate, long-term policy support could cost-effectively reduce business and public-sector bills by £570m and help to improve competitiveness and investment.

The report outlined three main recommendations to help achieve these savings:

  • The government should aim to improve energy system productivity year on year as is done in competitor countries like the US and Germany, with the purpose of reducing energy costs for users.
  • Electricity generators, networks and businesses should be able to contribute to a strong, more productive economy. For business, this means combining a revised energy tax regime with clear, simple and investable policy to leverage improvements in energy productivity.
  • The government should enhance the natural market direction with a more solution-based approach to its energy policy assessments, allowing the demand side and the supply side to compete equally.

Greenpeace UK policy director Dr Douglas Parr said: “Cutting energy waste wherever possible should be a no-brainer. You can lower energy bills, cut carbon emissions and boost energy security at a single stroke.

“Whatever our differences on clean energy, the government must surely realise the obvious benefits of making our energy system more efficient. The broad sweep of organisations supporting this initiative shows that a genuine welcome awaits an effort in this direction.”

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