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Energy imports in the UK - statistics & facts

Although historically relatively self-sufficient in covering domestic energy demand, the United Kingdom’s dependency on imports has increased in the past few decades. With oil and gas fields on the continental shelf depleting and the government phasing out coal, the country has grown increasingly reliant on supplies from other countries. Energy dependency reached its peak in 2013, at nearly 48 percent. Thanks in large part to growing capacity additions of wind power and a decline in primary energy consumption, the dependency rate had fallen to some 35 percent since. This is notably lower than the European Union average.

Interconnectors and the rise of electricity imports

Between 1990 and 2019, net imports of electricity nearly doubled, amounting to 1.8 million metric tons of oil equivalent in the latter year. This was up from 1.3 million metric tons in 2017 and likely the result of a new interconnector to the continent. The Nemo Link to Belgium went live in February 2019 and allows for imports of cheaper electricity as power stations in Britain are charged with higher carbon prices. As more interconnectors are to be set up, electricity imports may continue to increase in the coming years and could reach six million metric tons of oil equivalent by 2035.

Primary fuel supply

Norway is the greatest supplier of primary fuels to the UK. In 2018, the UK bought some 17.5 million metric tons of crude oil and 1.7 million metric tons of natural gas from its northern neighbor. Most natural gas was imported via pipelines, however liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports notably increased in 2019. Qatar is the main exporter of LNG to the UK.

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