Better Energy Ambitions petals, environment

We believe in a decarbonised future and are committed to leading the UK’s transition to a safe, low-carbon energy system. The Climate Change Act in 2008 committed the UK Government to reduce carbon emissions by at least 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. In 2016, the UK renewed this commitment when it ratified the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. By 2050, low-carbon nuclear and renewables will fulfil most of our electricity needs. As the UK’s largest low-carbon generator, EDF Energy is helping to enable this future.

We have extended the lives of our nuclear power stations so they can keep generating low-carbon electricity until the next generation of plants comes online. Until that time, our coal and gas power stations will also stand ready to provide electricity when needed. We have an ambition to expand our renewables footprint in the UK as part of our diverse energy future.

We are also investing in new low-carbon technologies like battery storage, small modular reactors and tidal energy. And of course, the UK Government’s decision to go ahead with our proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C in 2016 has opened a new chapter in the UK’s long standing nuclear industry.

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 grammes of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity they generate. This is a reduction from 718 grammes 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.

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


To be ahead of the Government’s ambitious trajectory to deliver the UK’s 2050 climate targets, and to keep our position as the UK’s largest low-carbon electricity generator:

• To bring the carbon intensity from our electricity generation to below 50g/kWh by the end of the fifth carbon budget

• We will lead by example by championing innovation and R&D in electric heating and transport in our operations

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



How are we doing


Our total carbon emissions increased to 7,194 Kilotonnes (Kt) in 2017 to due to increased output, planned outages at our nuclear power stations and market conditions favouring increased generation from coal-fired and gas-fired power stations compared to the previous year. This has resulted in an increased carbon intensity of our electricity generation to 94g CO2e/kWh in 2017 compared to 64.2g CO2e/kWh in 2016. This is still considerably lower than the 203g CO2e/kWh carbon intensity delivered in 2015 and in line with our forecasts through to 2030 as our generation fleet evolves. 

See graph below


Through EDF Energy Renewables, EDF Energy is developing its renewable assets. In addition, EDF Energy has signed power purchase agreements with renewable generators and supports independent developers. This ensures a balanced approach for compliance with its Renewables Obligations (RO) and the provision of renewable electricity to its customer base.

EDF Energy renewables currently operates 36 wind farm sites with a total generation capacity of 704.2MW, including Beck Burn (31MW) which was brought into operation in 2017. One other onshore wind farm is currently in construction, Dorenell (177MW), its largest onshore wind farm to date, expected to commence operation in 2019. EDF Energy Renewables continues to expand its scope of technologies in addition to wind power with a 49MW battery storage facility built adjacent to West Burton power station in Nottinghamshire. .The project is part of a new 200 MW enhanced frequency response system which will be deployed across the UK to balance the UK grid.


In 2017, Cottam and West Burton A coal-fired power plants generated 4.5TWh of electricity. This is higher than last year, and represented a good performance in a year of particularly low dark spreads, in addition to outages at seven of the eight units. The impact of the lower dark spreads[1] has been largely economically mitigated by favourable trading, including power buybacks at a beneficial price, as well as running in peak periods. West Burton B Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) generated 6.6TWh, driven by improved market spark spreads [2]and continued Balancing Mechanism activity.[3]

In February 2017, coal and gas generation, secured a one year Capacity Market agreement starting in 2017, at the clearing price of £6.95/kW.

EDF Energy operates two mid-cycle gas storage facilities in Cheshire. Hole House, purchased from EDF Trading in April 2014, is fully operational with a total working gas capacity of c.18 million therms. Hill Top Farm became commercially operational in mid-January 2015 with three cavities. The remaining two storage facilities are being developed and are scheduled to come on-line by the end of 2018.


[1] The dark spread is a common metric used to estimate returns over fuel costs of coal-fired electric generators. A dark spread is the difference between the price received by a generator for electricity produced and the cost of coal needed to produce that electricity. Dark spreads can be calculated using current spot prices or forward prices.

[2] Spark Spread is the difference between the market price of electricity and its cost of production. The spark spread can be negative or positive. If the spark spread is small on a particular day, electricity production might be delayed until a more profitable spread arises.

[3] The balancing Mechanism is one of the tools National Grid uses to balance electricity supply and demand close to real time. It is needed because electricity cannot be stored and must be manufactured at the time of demand.


CO2 Intensity of electricity generation

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

During 2017, we began development of a project that will use a new digital system to capture data and ensure we demonstrate our progress towards net-zero emissions and our waste, water, biodiversity impact and circular economy principles. This will continue throughout 2018 in order to allow us to monitor and report our environmental performance through an online software solution.


As with all of our ambitions, we continue to innovate in order to drive forward the transition to a low-carbon future. For example, during 2018, we will continue to develop two distinct projects that support our vision:

Electric Vehicles - Across the EDF Group, we have committed to convert our whole fleet to electric vehicles by 2030. The commitment covers the 1,700 vans and cars owned or leased by EDF Energy and supports our latest innovation work on charging solutions. We are leading the ‘V2GO’ project in Oxford - a large scale demonstration of “Vehicle to Grid” charging. The work is demonstrating how energy stored in electric vehicle batteries could be borrowed by the electricity system during peak hours, before being recharged during the off-peak in time for their drivers to set off on their next journey.

 Exploring SMART Cities - In order to build sustainable city ecosystems and support local authorities in their approach, EDF has developed an innovative platform that simulates their development policy over the long term. The tool makes use of EDF’s integrated approach to the city – spanning every sector, from energy to transport, air quality, civil engineering projects and water and waste management. The tool gives planners the needed information to achieve improvements in emissions, energy, quality of life and cost.

How we measure progress


• By 2020, we will demonstrate real progress towards a net zero emissions, waste, water, biodiversity impact and implement circular economy principles

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.


How are we doing


Our carbon emissions into the air come from our commercial buildings and business travel, as well as from our operations. In 2017 we introduced 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 3,003 tonnes of CO2e in 2017 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.


Overall business travel emissions have increased by 200 tonnes of CO2e from 7.52 Kt of CO2e in 2016 to 7.79Kt in 2017. This slight increase has been driven by an increased use of air travel versus a reduction in rail travel. We believe this is due to rail fare increases that have been faster than increases in airfares.

See our business mileage graph below


In 2017, we have continued to ensure that all of our operational nuclear sites hold the Wildlife Trusts’ Biodiversity Benchmark. The standard certifies our systems for achieving continual biodiversity protection and enhancement across all of our nuclear sites.


Our goal has been to make sure our use of water is minimised and sustainably used throughout our operations. 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 more in 2017 than they did in 2016, and as a consequence the amount of fresh water they abstracted increased. 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


Our environmental performance continues to improve, with increased reporting of incidents and near miss events. Overall numbers and the severity of incidents have decreased from our existing assets.

We are working with the team and supply chain partners at HPC to better capture any environmental events and complaints relating to the construction of our new nuclear power station. Given the scale, complexity and the inherent risks associated with any construction project of this scale we expect our performance in 2018 to look significantly worse compared to our historical performance. We will of course use this information to target interventions to prevent reoccurrence of any event by elimination of the hazards.

We have taken additional steps to ensure that we continue to share and learn from these events to prevent similar incidents occurring in the future.

We had no high potential incidents, no prosecutions or enforcement action in 2017


Overall amounts of conventional non-hazardous waste have reduced by more than 35,000 tonnes from 58,685 tonnes in 2016 to 23,317 tonnes in 2017. This is because we have not been undertaking any major construction projects or refurbishment works. This data currently excludes the HPC project, which will be reported separately in subsequent years. We will continue our focus on reducing overall waste in our offices. During 2018 we have pilot programmes in place to reduce the use of paper cups, reduce the amount of paper used for printing and to improve the recovery of materials from our waste streams. We will be seeking to set new targets to reduce the generation of waste from across the business.


CO2 emissions (electricity and heat generation)ktonnes


SF6 emissionstonnes3,155 
NOx emissionstonnes9,042
SO2 emissionstonnes4,554
Dust emissionstonnes244
Conventional hazardous wastetonnes3,145
Conventional non-hazardous wastetonnes23,317
Cooling water drawn (of which cooling freshwater)

10^6 m3

Cooling water returned (of which cooling freshwater)

10^6 m3

Business Mileage tonnes of CO2e


Refrigerant gases (from air conditioning units) tonnes of CO2e3,003 
Waste recycled/re-used tonnes23,317.91
Total waste generated tonnes25,624.78
Environmental Incidentsincidents0

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).


CO2 From 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.