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UK energy consumption falling, says EDF as profits slip

Jack Torrance
EDF said energy consumption fell in the UK last year

A rise in energy efficiency led to the biggest drop in UK electricity consumption in three years for EDF, the French state-backed energy giant said today.

Both domestic and commercial customers cut their electricity usage in 2017, leading to an overall drop of 1.9pc, while gas consumption fell 2.6pc as milder weather meant customers used their central heating less. 

Domestic energy use has been in decline nationally since 2010, despite a growing population and consumers using an increasing number of electrical appliances.

Successive regulations in recent years, such as the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs, have forced appliance manufacturers to make their products less wasteful.

EDF has faced criticism for its handling of the Hinkley point C project

Iain Miller of Northern Powergrid, the electricity network that supplies homes and businesses in the North East and Yorkshire, said: “Things are becoming more efficient. The modern TV will use less power when it’s running than a cathode ray tube did on standby.”

Average energy consumption by fridges and freezers plunged by more than half between 1990 and 2016, according to official statistics, while “wet appliances” such as washing machines and dishwashers have improved more moderately. 

Mr Miller suggested an increase in people eating out was also likely to have knocked domestic use.

EDF’s UK earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) slumped by one third last year to €1.7bn (£1.5bn), which it said was largely due to a fall in nuclear power prices. Revenues dipped 0.8pc to €9.3bn, in part because of the weak sterling.

EDF said: “The number of residential customer accounts declined only slightly compared to end 2016, indicating resilience in a highly competitive market.”

In numbers | Hinkley Point

The company operates eight nuclear power stations in the UK, including at Hinkley Point, where it has faced criticism over delays and rising costs as it builds a new plant.  

In November, MPs accused the government of making “grave strategic errors” in its handling of the Hinkley Point C project, which is partly funded by the Chinese state.

EDF reported a 2.2pc decline in overall revenues for the year to €69.6bn, with a 16.3pc dip in Ebitda to €13.7bn.

Its chairman and chief executive Jean-Bernard Lévy said the results demonstrated “EDF’s solidity, once again profitable, in a difficult market context”.