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Energy in the UK

Energy is a broad term encompassing a range of different fuels and end uses. Electricity, heating and transport fuels are all forms of energy used across the sectors of the UK economy, including the domestic, business, and industrial sectors. Various different fuels and technologies are used to produce the energy consumed in the UK, including both domestic production and imports.

Electricity provides a relatively small proportion of the UK’s energy consumption. However, the evolution of technologies that produce UK electricity, and the importance of electricity for the future of the UK energy sector, has meant that electricity is often the focus of policy. As such the Library’s papers on energy policy, summarised in this paper, often focus on policy related to electricity.

Energy policy basis

Energy policy in the UK is the responsibility of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Although there are numerous regulators for specific parts of the energy sector, much of the energy market is regulated by Ofgem.

Historically, parts of energy generation, transportation, and supply were run by the public sector. Most of the market is now privatised; generation and supply are competitive, and transportation through networks is regulated as the operators are monopolies.

The Government and Ofgem continue to regulate the market for customers, and deliver policy to meet the Government’s aims on energy.

The energy policy of successive Governments has centred around three objectives of security, affordability, and decarbonisation. This is sometimes referred to as the energy ‘trilemma’.

Timeline of reports

This paper includes a timeline of some of the recent key policy developments in the UK energy industry. Since 2017, energy policy has largely been made in line with the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy.

At the end of 2020, a Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution and an Energy White Paper were published with new policies and commitments across many aspects of the energy system including consumers, power, the energy system, transport, buildings, industrial energy, and oil and gas.

Summary of papers

The Library has published various briefing papers, debate packs, and insights covering different aspects of energy policy. This paper includes summaries and links to these papers, where more detailed information can be found.

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