Changes in UK energy mix reflected in 2017 GHG conversion factors update

Changes in UK energy mix reflected in 2017 GHG conversion factors update
04 August 2017

Changes in UK energy mix reflected in 2017 GHG conversion factors update  

The UK Government has released the UK Government GHG Conversion for Company Reporting for 2017, making a number of updates to how businesses calculate and report energy use and emissions 

The conversion factors are reviewed annually on behalf of the UK Government by independent environmental consultancy Ricardo Energy & Environment. The 2017 updates include changes to take into account developments in grid energy mix and market trends towards low emission technologies. Businesses are required to use the factors in some regulatory schemes (such as the CRC), plus they can use them in their annual carbon reporting. They also provide a valuable tool for long term sustainability planning.  

Christine St John Cox, Ricardo’s sustainability and carbon manager said: “2017 saw a number of firsts for the UK’s energy supply. We had the first day with no coal being burnt and the first day where over 50 percent of our energy was generated by renewable sources. This year’s update for electricity continues to reflect this increasingly diverse energy mix and the opportunities it provides for businesses when developing their sustainable development strategies.” 

The 15% decrease in the carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) electricity factor demonstrates the ongoing and increasing change in energy sources in the UK. This is due to a significant decrease in coal generation, and an increase in gas and renewables generation in 2015 (the year for which the 2017 GHG conversion factor was derived).

Emission factors for electric vehicles (xEV) have also been introduced for the first time to reflect their increasing market share - sales of xEV increased by 508% from 2014 to 2016. The factors allow businesses to breakdown emissions and mileage for their fleets against a variety of electric and plug in hybrid vehicles. This lets fleet operators to more accurately calculate transport emissions and model reduction potentials with further xEV deployment.

Other additions include factors to calculate emissions for overnight stays in hotels in a range of countries on a “room per night” basis. The methodology for road transport vehicles has been updated to account for the average petrol and diesel biofuel blend in public refuelling stations, as opposed to the previous methodology which used conventional fossil based fuels.

A more detailed overview of the updates and what they could mean for business’s GHG reporting is available on the Ricardo sustainable business blog. In addition to providing annual reviews of the GHG factors, Ricardo’s sustainable business team supports companies throughout Europe to comply with environmental reporting targets and develop effective cost saving sustainability strategies.

To download the factors for free, visit