Better Energy Ambitions petals, environment

Climate change remains a key challenge for everyone. At the Paris Conference in 2015, the international community reiterated the crucial aim of limiting carbon emissions to keep the rise in global temperatures to below 2 °C. To support this, EDF Group has undertaken to produce increasingly low-carbon electricity. By ratifying the Paris Agreement in 2016, the UK government confirmed its commitment to decarbonising the economy. This involves shifting from an energy mix that heavily relies on fossil fuels, to a future where low-carbon nuclear and renewables provide most of our electricity, alongside flexible gas generation to meet any peaks in demand.

We're EDF Energy, the UK's largest producer of low-carbon electricity operating a diverse portfolio of generating assets alongside a customer facing power supply business. This Environment Policy sets out our approach to achieve our Environment Ambition to lead the decarbonisation of the UK electricity sector whilst seeking to achieve a net zero environmental impact across our operations regarding air, land and water.

This means staying within our permitted limits for operations, using best available techniques to tackle our environmental impacts, prioritising our efforts where we can make the most difference in reducing our contribution to climate change, and to protect a cleaner, healthier and more resilient environment that benefits society and our economy.

Reducing carbon intensity

As the UK’s largest low-carbon energy generator, we have committed to have a carbon intensity from our electricity generation ahead of the UK’s 2050 targets. 

Through the Climate Change Act, the UK government has committed to reduce carbon emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. The UK’s Committee on Climate Change sets out carbon budgets showing how much carbon the UK should produce in the future to be on track to achieve that goal. Meeting these budgets means the UK will also deliver its share of carbon reduction to limit global temperature increases to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, as agreed at the UN in Paris (COP21) in 2015. Our parent company EDF, has committed to go beyond the requirements of the 2°C trajectory set by COP21 by drastically reducing the Group’s CO2 emissions.

UK’s fifth carbon budget, which covers the period between 2028 and 2032, allows for power stations to produce between 50 and 100 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity they generate. This is a reduction from 718 grams in 1990. As the UK’s largest low-carbon energy generator, we have committed to have a carbon intensity from our electricity generation ahead of the UK’s 2050 targets. 

Our programmes


The United Kingdom is facing a critical time in its energy future. We need to address the challenges of decarbonising our energy system, while replacing significant amounts of existing infrastructure due to come offline over the next decade. This must be done in an affordable way that delivers a low-carbon transition at the lowest cost for consumers.

Our existing nuclear stations already help tackle climate change and in 2016 provided 65.1TWh of low-carbon electricity, the highest output since 2003 and around 20% of the UK’s electricity supply.

We have extended the lives of our existing nuclear power stations to give us a further 7.5GW of low-carbon capacity for a further eight years. The carbon avoided by this would be the equivalent of taking all UK cars off the road for more than three and a half years. These life extensions will allow us to keep generating low-carbon electricity until the new generation of power stations are commissioned.

We are constructing the first new nuclear plant in a generation. Hinkley Point C will have the capacity to generate safe, reliable, low-carbon electricity, enough to power around 6 million homes for its anticipated lifespan of 60 years.

And we have finished the second stage of public consultation for the new nuclear power station (Sizewell C) we’re planning to build alongside our existing station (Sizewell B). The Office for Nuclear Regulation has been asked to begin the Generic Design Assessment for another new nuclear power station that our new nuclear build partners CGN are seeking to build at Bradwell in Essex.


We know the future electricity system will be more complex than today’s. Innovations are changing the way the whole UK system operates and the way customers use, manage and even produce their own energy. These changes demand evolutions in regulation, which must be fair, efficient and transparent allowing everyone – companies, policy-makers and customers – to deliver an efficient, future electricity system that serves the interests of everyone.

We believe that long-term decisions on energy investment continue to depend on a stable, effective policy framework. This includes all the elements of Electricity Market Reform – the Capacity Market, Carbon Price Floor and Contracts for Difference – which need to remain in place and be strengthened where appropriate to bring forward investment.

This framework means we are continuing to invest in our coal and gas stations, to ensure they are available to provide electricity when demand is higher than supply. We are also investing in renewable energy as well as new technologies such as large-scale battery storage, small modular reactors and tidal energy, creating low-carbon solutions for the future. Across our company and the rest of our Group, teams are busy exploring all these technologies as well as new ways of working to make this future possible.

How we measure our progress

What we measure: the carbon intensity of our electricity generation activities in grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour (g CO2e/kWh).

Our target:  

  • to be ahead of the UK’s 2050 climate targets – which will involve bringing our carbon intensity below 50g CO2e/kWh by the end of 2032
  • to keep our position as the UK’s largest low-carbon electricity generator

This new target takes us further than the goal we set in 2013, which was to reduce the intensity of carbon dioxide emissions from our electricity production to less than 100g Co2e/kWh by 2030. The target is based on our current understanding of how the UK government’s energy policy is likely to evolve over time.

The reduction will not be a straight line between now and 2030, and there may be years where the carbon intensity increases to meet energy demand. We will be evolving our generation mix to ensure we meet our customers’ future energy demands, at an affordable price and with the lowest carbon impact possible.  We will report annually on our progress. 

How are we doing


Even though we generated 4.5 terawatt-hours (TWh) more electricity in 2016, our total carbon emissions were lower than in 2015. We were responsible for 4,748 kilotonnes of carbon emissions in 2016, compared to 16,878 kilotonnes in 2015.

The carbon intensity of our electricity generation activities was 64.2g CO2e/kWh – down from 203g CO2e/kWh in 2015.  Planned outages at our coal stations, and market conditions that favoured other forms of generation contributed to our lower emissions in 2016. However, our reduction in carbon emissions will not be a straight line between now and 2030 as our generation fleet evolves. In 2017, we expect our emissions may be higher than 2016.

See graph below


Our renewables company, EDF Energy Renewables (EDF ER) is a 50:50 joint venture between EDF Energy and EDF Energies Nouvelles.  

In 2017 EDF Energy Renewables, opened a new office in Edinburgh and commissioned two new windfarms, bringing our total to 35, with 737 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity between them.

EDF ER also won a contract to provide National Grid with 49MW of battery storage, which we're building next to the West Burton coal and gas power stations.


We are in the middle of a transition to a low-carbon future, and therefore the role coal plays in generating electricity has been dramatically reduced. In 2016, the UK generated more electricity from renewable sources than from coal. But for now, coal still has an important role to play in our balanced mix of energy sources, however that role has changed.

We have invested in our coal stations so they can take on this new role by making their equipment more flexible and reliable. This means the plants are now there to respond to peaks in demand, instead of generating electricity all the time. Our coal power stations at Cottam and West Burton A, coupled with our already-adaptable gas power station at West Burton B, are ready to come online whenever National Grid needs them.

CO2 Intensity of electricity generation (g/kWh)

Net zero environmental impact

At EDF Energy, we want to have a net zero environmental impact. 

We rely upon a healthy and diverse environment to enhance our lives and provide us with everything we need: clean air, water, food and materials. This is natural capital, and it is provided free by our planet. At EDF Energy, we want to have a net zero environmental impact. This means staying within our permitted limits for operations, using best available techniques to tackle our environmental impacts, and prioritising our efforts where we can make the most difference in reducing our contribution to climate change, and to protect a cleaner, healthier and more resilient environment that benefits society and our economy.

Our goal by 2030 is to demonstrate real progress towards reducing our carbon emissions, waste, water use and impact on biodiversity towards net zero. We will also implement circular economy principles into the way we work, reducing waste and avoiding pollution and achieving greater resource value and productivity. 

Our programmes


Our carbon emissions into the air come from our commercial buildings and business travel, as well as from our operations. In 2017 we will be introducing some new initiatives including:

  • Ensuring all of our metering and sub metering at all of our non-operational sites uses the latest smart metering, to give us accurate and timely data about our energy use
  • Initiatives to encourage staff to drive less, more responsibly, and to drive more fuel-efficient vehicles.
  • Improving our management of refrigerants. Our emissions of refrigerant gases (from air conditioning units) was 2,463 tonnes of CO2e in 2016 and we know we need to do more. The revised Montreal Protocol will require us to replace refrigerant gases with ones that have no climate change impact. 


Our goal has been to make sure our use of water is minimised and sustainably used throughout our operations. To reach this goal, we are starting to measure and report our water footprint to see where we can improve. For the water used in our power stations, the amount used for cooling directly relates to the amount of electricity we generate. 99% of our total water footprint is seawater, which has very little environmental impact. This is used at our coastal nuclear power stations before being returned to the sea.

For our coal and gas plants, we use water from rivers close to our stations (under licence) and return about 60% of it to the rivers. The other 40% is lost through evaporation. To measure the water we use outside our power stations – in our offices and call centres - we use a baseline made up of 26 EDF Energy properties and 42 meter points.


By 2030 our goal is for our operations to have a positive impact on biodiversity. To do this we will assess the ecology of all land within and surrounding our operations and, along with external partners, take action to protect or enhance biodiversity.

At EDF Energy, we have a company Biodiversity Standard  that describes how we plan, carry out, monitor and audit our commitment to biodiversity, and communicate about it in line with The Wildlife Trusts’ Biodiversity Benchmark. At Hinkley Point C, our new nuclear power plant, we have Ecological Mitigation and Monitoring Plans (EcMMPs) and Habitat Management Plans (HMPs) in place to make sure we keep our impact on biodiversity to a minimum.


We commit to:

  • Training our staff and contractors to be aware of biodiversity concerns.
  • Assessing our impacts on biodiversity and identifying required mitigation and compensation.
  • Managing our non-operational land to conserve and enhance biodiversity.
  • Working in partnership with other conservation organisations, such as The Wildlife Trusts and Romney Marsh Countryside Project actively involving others in our decision making.
  • Encouraging staff, residents and visitors to enjoy the local landscape and wildlife through nature trails and guided walks.


We have run a Zero Waste to Landfill initiative to deal with waste from our offices and call centres since 2015. Any waste we don’t recycle or reuse goes to a series of energy-from-waste facilities around the UK.

However, the total amount of waste we produce has been increasing, so in 2016 we standardised our waste management arrangements across our offices while raising awareness among our people. We are also working to identify sources of waste in buildings we lease and gain an awareness of waste from our projects.

There are separate waste arrangements that cover radioactive waste and spent fuel from our nuclear sites as well as the construction waste from the construction of Hinkley Point C.

The burning of coal produces ash, which we are able to sell as a high quality by-product for the production of cement and other building products. In addition, we use equipment at our power stations called fuel gas de-sulphurisation (FGD). FGD removed in excess of 92% of the sulphur dioxide emissions from the power station’s emissions to atmosphere. The operation of FGD also produces another by-product called gypsum, which is used in the production of building materials such as plaster-board.

Our ash and gypsum have to meet high British Standards to meet our industrial partner’s requirements. The use of ash and gypsum for building materials avoids these materials being sent to landfill, and provides us with a valuable income stream for our coal-fired stations when they are generating less electricity.


Our goal is to have industry leading environmental performance and have no complaints or enforcement action taken by environmental regulators. 

How we measure progress

What we measure: In 2017 we want to establish baseline information in the following areas:

  • emissions into the air
  • sustainable use of water
  • net positive biodiversity
  • using less and using well
  • managing risk well

This will help us build on our previous ambition to keep our environmental impacts on air, land and water to a minimum.

Our goal: net zero environmental impact – which means our business activities will not negatively affect the local environment.

How are we doing


We are working to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from our buildings, transport and supply chain. The total emissions from our office and call centre buildings are steadily declining, largely due to reducing the number of properties, favourable weather conditions and investment in properties.

There has also been a steady decrease in carbon emissions from our transport as we question the need to travel, using technology such as telephone and video conferencing more regularly. We already achieved our commitment to cut carbon emissions from transport by 20% by 2012. Since then, we have seen sustained reductions of carbon emissions from transport despite increased business activity. During 2016 we made a concerted effort to reduce travel costs, leading to a 33% reduction in carbon emissions from transport.

See our business mileage graph below


Our existing target was to protect and enhance biodiversity, with 100% of operational nuclear sites holding the Wildlife Trusts’ Biodiversity Benchmark by 2018. In 2017, all our nuclear power stations retained their Biodiversity Benchmark accreditation. An additional 133ha at the Dungeness Long Pits was awarded the Benchmark. We are seeking to develop new partnerships and opportunities to enhance biodiversity for our other areas of land near to our coal-fired power stations, renewable assets and offices.

We have prepared a Biodiversity Report to comply with our duty under Section 2A of the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended).


Our fresh mains water use has declined overall since 2010, because we have made efforts to reduce leaks and closed some of our data centres, which used water to cool the servers.The decrease in our non-operational water consumption this year reflects the closure of some sites and the repair of a substantial water leak at Worthing.

The volume of water we use at each of our power stations is largely driven by the station’s cooling requirements, technology and maximum power output. Last year our nuclear power stations generated a record-breaking 65 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity. For our nuclear power stations the cooling pumps run at a constant rate regardless of the stations power output, and this only drops significantly where the station is on a statutory outage.

Our coal stations ran much less than in previous years, so the amount of fresh water they abstracted went down by a third. The Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) at West Burton also uses fresh water, but its hybrid cooling system means far less of the water evaporates than with a traditional cooling tower system. The amount of water used in our fossil-fuelled power stations for cooling generally relates to the amount of electricity we generate up to a point where the use levels off.

See graph below


We introduced a new system in 2016 to improve the way we identify and assess environmental incidents. We will be running campaigns to help people use the new system and therefore the number of reported incidents is expected to increase in the short term.

We also plan to focus on recording High Potential Events (HPEs) and learn from them to help avoid serious incidents.


CO2 emissions (electricity and heat generation)ktonnes4748
SF6 emissionstonnes0.134
NOx emissionstonnes5723
SO2 emissionstonnes2931
Dust emissionstonnes164
Conventional hazardous wastetonnes3863
Conventional non-hazardous wastetonnes58685
Cooling water drawn (of which cooling freshwater)

10^6 m3

Cooling water returned (of which cooling freshwater)

10^6 m3


Please note:
- Environmental indicators are only assured for ‘Generation’ business units.
- Scope 1 emissions reporting is consistent with the universally accepted WBCSD / WRI Corporate Reporting Protocol – for EDF Energy, this is reported as ‘CO2 emissions (electricity and heat generation)’ as all other Scope 1 sources are considered immaterial.
- Scope 2 is not reported explicitly by EDF Energy, as it is considered immaterial to corporate level emissions, when compared to Scope 3 emissions. EDF Energy is currently discussing with EDF Group as to the most appropriate methodology for reporting Scope 3 emissions (principally gas sold to customers).


Business Mileage

Water (fresh water abstracted)

Our Better Energy Ambitions

Our six Better Energy Ambitions set out our short, medium and long-term goals and targets for improving our social, economic and environmental performance.

By meeting these ambitions, we will have created Better Lives, Better Experience and Better Energy - The Better Plan - in a responsible and sustainable way.