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 output from our nuclear power stations was down from 65.9 TWh in 2017 to 59.1 TWh in 2018 due to prolonged outages at Sizewell B and Hunterston B. The carbon intensity of our electricity we generated in 2018 increased to 103 g CO2e/kWh. This is still considerably lower than the 203g CO2e/kWh carbon intensity delivered in 2015 and in line with our forecast through to 2030. We expect to see a significant reduction in emissions at the end of 2019 following the planned closure of Cottam coal-fired power station.

See graph below


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.

We have also started a Net Zero project for schools which aims to educate get young people involved with Net Zero. The Net Zero Challenge is a project-based activity for young people to help their local community reach Net Zero.

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.


Carbon emissions increased from 7,194 (Kt) in 2017 to 7,238 (Kt) in 2018 as we generated more electricity from gas and coal fired generation to make up for the outages at our nuclear plants. 

See our total travel emissions graph below


In 2018, 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.

For our Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C projects, planned works to ensure that we can mitigate the impact of these projects are well underway. 



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. The amount of cooling water we abstracted from coastal waters and the River Trent dropped from 8,565 million cubic meters in 2017 to 8,179 million cubic meters in 2018. Of which in 2018, 49 million cubic meters of water was fresh water abstracted from the River Trent. With the announced closure of Cottam later in 2019, we expect to see a further significant drop in the amount of water that we sustainably extract from the River Trent.

See graph below


Environmental incidents remain at historically low levels and we have had no (zero) environmental prosecutions or high potential events in 2018. However, we have seen some adverse trends in terms of conventional waste management and the loss of low risk chemicals to secondary containment systems, but these events did not cause any harm to the environment. We have fully investigated the incidents that are of most concern to ensure that we share the learning from these events to prevent similar events occurring in the future.



In 2018 we continued to send no conventional waste to landfill from our offices, which is the fourth year in a row that we have achieved this. Since 2015 we have seen a decrease of 33% in waste generation (427 tonnes) at our offices, and the total amount of conventional waste we disposed for EDF Energy as a whole decreased from 26,354 tonnes in 2017 to 20,980 tonnes in 2018.

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. At the end of 2018, EDF Energy signed up to the Business in the Community’s Waste to Wealth Commitment. We will report progress against this commitment in future years.


Total CO2 Travel Emissions

Water (fresh water abstracted)