Where does British Gas energy come from?

Coal is out and renewables are in. So if you've ever wondered exactly how the lights stay on and our homes keep warm, you're about to discover the answer.

Turning natural resources into energy

Energy production is the story of how we turn natural resources into the power behind our creature comforts.

Do you know where your energy comes from? Our video tells you how energy gets into your home. And all in less than a minute.

Our energy mix

We supply gas and electricity to over seven million homes in the UK.

Check out the table 1 below and you’ll see that 75% of our electricity comes from renewable sources – way above the UK suppliers’ average of 40%.

Discover more about renewable energy and how it reduces your carbon footprint.

Energy source British Gas UK average
Coal 0% 3%
Natural gas 0% 38%
Nuclear 25% 16%
Renewables 75% 40%
Other fuels 0% 3%
CO2 emissions 0 g/kWh 194 g/kWh
High-level radioactive waste 0.0018 g/kWh 0.0011 g/kWh

Where does the UK’s energy come from?

We don’t use natural gas in our electricity mix1, but the UK average is 38%. Here’s where it comes from.2

The UK’s single largest source of natural gas comes via pipelines and interconnectors from the UK Continental Shelf and most imports come from reliable suppliers such as Norway.

There are no gas pipelines directly linking the UK with Russia and imports from Russia made up less than 4% of the total UK gas supply in 2021.3

Around one fifth of the UK’s gas supply is shipped in by specialist tankers as liquefied natural gas (LNG) – mainly from Qatar and the USA - via three LNG terminals, providing Britain with one of the largest LNG import infrastructures in Europe.

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If you want to reduce your carbon footprint, our green gas and electricity tariffs can help. We’ll match 100% of your electricity with renewable sources. And we’ll offset your gas use with carbon reduction projects in developing countries.

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What is natural gas?

Natural gas is mostly methane – formed deep beneath the earth’s surface. It’s created by intense heat and pressure, over millions of years, acting on layers of decomposing plant and animal material.

How is natural gas extracted?

Natural gas is extracted from the earth by drilling wells. If the gas is below the seabed – like in the North Sea – a gas platform is built in the ocean.

What does refining do?

After being extracted, gas is piped to refineries on land. Then they purify the gas by separating the methane from propane and butane.

The gas is then stored in tanks before being pumped into the country’s distribution network, and entering your home through a meter.

Why does natural gas smell bad?

The truth is that natural gas has no scent at all. That ‘eggy’ odour is actually added to help us all smell gas leaks and stay safe.

What is liquefied natural gas?

Liquefied natural gas (often known as LNG) is created by cooling down gas to temperatures below -160°C so that it becomes a liquid.

It’s a bit like steam turning into liquid water as it cools. But the temperatures involved are many times lower for gas.

Liquids are easier to transport

Liquefied natural gas takes up six hundred times less space than natural gas. So it can be transported in large quantities by specialist temperature-controlled ships.

Sources of electricity

Almost all electricity is made by spinning turbines connected to generators – which then produce an electric current.1

How to power the turbines?

Many different methods are possible, from fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, through to renewables like wind, solar and wave energy.

Green energy is the future

75% of British Gas electricity already comes from renewable sources.1 And we’re always looking for more ways to reduce our carbon footprint as a responsible business.

We know we have a big role to play and in the last decade we’ve managed to reduce our carbon emissions by 80%. Looking ahead, the plan is to be a net zero business by 2045. We’re also helping our customers to save energy.

How is electricity generated by coal?

Finely powdered coal is blown into the combustion chamber of a boiler where it’s burnt at a high temperature, producing hot gases and heat energy. These turn water into steam which then drives turbines.

Phasing out coal

The UK’s reliance on coal is reducing every year with only two coal-fired power stations connected to the UK grid.

By 2025 coal will be phased out completely as part of the country’s commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Where we get our coal

Just over half of the coal in the UK average electricity mix is mined in the UK. The rest is imported from countries like the USA and Venezuela.

How is electricity generated by gas?

Gas is turned into electricity in specialist power stations through turbines which when burnt produces heat that turns water into steam to drive turbines that generate an electric current.

The future of gas

Gas is a fossil fuel and a finite, non-renewable source of energy. Whilst it’s a much cleaner energy source than coal, the process of burning gas still creates greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

The UK’s reliance on gas power has reduced over the years as renewable energy becomes more readily available.

However, gas power remains an important part of the UK’s average electricity mix in the short term. Until more renewables are integrated into the system and with coal power plants in Britain set to close by 2025, gas power stations will be needed to ensure a secure supply of electricity.

How is electricity generated by nuclear energy?

In nuclear power plants energy is produced by splitting uranium atoms – a process called fission. This releases large amounts of heat which produces steam and drives a turbine generator.

Why nuclear energy is green

Electricity from nuclear power is considered green because no fossil fuels are burnt and no greenhouse gases are released.

The UK has six nuclear power stations supplying 16% of the country’s average electricity. Half of this capacity is due to be decommissioned by 2025 due to age, but the government is planning to build more nuclear power plants in the coming years.

British Gas tariffs. Isn’t it time you switched?

If you’re looking for an energy supplier that’s committed to maximising renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions, why not check out our tariffs?

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Want to know more?

Renewable energy

By investing in wind farms, solar and green gas, we’re helping customers reduce their home’s CO2 emissions.

Learn about renewables

Energy saving tips

Reduce your bill and your carbon footprint – try our energy saving tips.

Save energy

Your energy bill

Understand what all the information on your energy bill means.

Explain my bill

Additional information

  1. Table figures cover period between 1st April 2020 – 31st March 2021.

  2. Source: Dept for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) – Natural gas imports and exports (DUKES 4.5) July 2021.

  3. Source: Russia-Ukraine and UK energy: factsheet