This component covers energy consumed in the South West in 2001, for purposes such as power, heating and lighting.

In 2001, the South West consumed an estimated 93,760 GWh of energy, of which 49% was from gas. It generated 500 GWh of renewable energy, of which 375 GWh was in the form of electricity. The manufacturing sector consumed more than 60% of all industrial energy. Over half the energy used in homes went to space heating. Table 2 shows energy consumption by fuel type.

Table 2
Direct energy consumed in the South West, by fuel type, in 2001 (GWh)
Sector Electricity* Gas Solid fuel*** Petroleum Heat energy+ Total Energy
Total direct energy 32,710 46,030 3,865 11,030 125 93,760
% of total direct energy 35% 49% 4% 12% <1%  
Domestic 13,967 27,969 1,909 3,087 ** 46,931
Non-domestic 18,743 18,061 1,956 7,943 ** 46,704
* Includes 375 GWh of electricity generated in the South West from renewables.
** No data available.
*** Solid fuel includes coal.
+ This is heat energy from landfill gas, solar panels and biomass.
Note: Totals may differ due to rounding.
Note: The petroleum figure reported does not include petroleum used for transport.
Sources: AEAT, 2001 & 2003; DEFRA, 2003b; DETR, 1996; DTI, 2002, 2003 & 2003a, 2004 & 2004a; Mitchell & Regen, 1998; ODPM, 2001; ONS, 2003a & 2003b; REWARD, 2004; Transco, 2003 and Western Power, 2004.

Energy ecological footprint

The direct (domestic and services) energy ecological footprint in 2001 was 1 gha per person, 18% of the total ecological footprint.

Domestic energy accounted for 71% of the footprint. Domestic electricity consumption had the largest impact, 35% of the total energy footprint, 50% of the domestic energy footprint. Domestic natural gas & liquid propane gas (LPG) consumption had the second largest impact at 28% of the total energy footprint, 39% of the domestic energy footprint. Figure 4 shows the domestic energy footprint by fuel type.

Figure 4
The domestic energy ecological footprint of a South West resident, by fuel type, in 2001

fig 4

Direct energy scenarios

Housing and domestic energy

In 2001, there were 2,186,000 dwellings in the South West of England (ONS, 2003b). Total domestic energy consumption was approximately 46,931 GWh. This corresponds to over 12.6 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.

The scenarios presented here illustrate the relative importance of addressing energy consumption in the South West's existing housing stock and new build. Figure 5 shows the ecological footprints for six scenarios of domestic energy use in the region.

Figure 5
Housing and domestic energy base case and scenario ecological footprints for the South West

fig 5
  • Scenario 1: all new homes in the South West are built to current minimum requirements i.e. Building Regulations 2002.
  • Scenario 2: all new homes are built to higher than current energy efficiency standards.
  • Scenario 3: all new homes in the South West are built to Zero Energy Development (ZED) Standards.
  • Scenario 4: no energy efficiency measures are installed in existing houses, but technology improvements are implemented between 2001 and 2015.
  • Scenario 5: selected energy efficiency measures are installed in existing buildings between 2001 and 2015.
  • Scenario 6: further measures required to reach a one planet lifestyle for domestic energy use in existing buildings by 2015.

For more details see the housing and domestic energy scenarios in the Scenarios Report.

Renewable electricity

In 2001, just over 1% of electricity consumed in the South West was generated from renewable sources. The UK Climate Change Programme expresses an aim for renewables to supply 10% of UK electricity by 2010 and the government's Renewables Obligation includes a target of 15.4% of renewable electricity by 2015 (DTI, 2004b). The Energy White Paper also emphasises the importance of real progress, highlighting an aspiration to achieve 20% renewables by 2020 (DTI, 2003b). A target of 11-15% by 2010 was specified for the South West in REvision 2010 (GOSW & SWRA, 2004).

The South West should be able to achieve 11-15% of electricity generated from renewable sources by 2010. Scenarios illustrated in Figure 6 show some possible strategies for achieving this target, and the ecological footprints associated with them. For more detail on the scenarios, and discussion of the costs and benefits associated with renewable energy options in terms of investment, job creation and land use, see the Scenarios Report.

Figure 6
Total electricity base case and scenario ecological footprints for the South West

fig 6

Note: Some renewable energy has a negligible footprint, so electricity consumption could increase without increasing the footprint, if this increase in consumption is supplied from renewable energy sources.

  • Scenario 1: extending the REvision 2010 proposed renewable electricity mix for 2010 (GOSW & SWRA, 2004) to a 15% renewable electricity target by 2015.
  • Scenario 2: using a different mix of renewable technologies to meet the extended 15% renewable energy target by 2015.
  • Scenario 3: measures required to reach a one planet lifestyle by 2015, from electricity supplied in the South West.

Landrake eco-housing case study

Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust ran a competition to find 'novel and sustainable solutions' to the problem of affordable housing. The competition winner, architect Bill Dunster, proposed a Zero Energy Development (ZED) standard development, to reduce a broad range of environmental impacts relating to water use, transport, waste, food supply and material consumption (bdaZEDfactory, 2004).

Dunster's design reduces energy demand to through super insulation and massive construction*, maximising solar gain, and incorporating passive cooling. There are on-site renewable energy sources: a communal woodchip boiler, two wind turbines, solar water heating panels, and photovoltaics. Rainwater collection, storage and recycling are combined with water-efficient fittings to reduce water consumption.

Designed to be both affordable and environmentally benign, while providing a high quality of life for residents, the Landrake development is ideal to illustrate the potential for sustainable new build in the South West.

Using data from the Dunster-designed BedZED development, the prototype for the ZED Standards, we can explore the ecological footprints for future Landrake residents with reference to the South West average for residents moving into new build.

Living in a Landrake development, a person leading a consciously sustainable lifestyle could have an ecological footprint as low as 2.11 gha with CO2 emissions of 3.2 tonnes, compared to the South West average of 5.6 gha and 12.6 tonnes CO2.

For more detail on the Landrake case study, see the Scenarios Report.

* Massively constructed buildings store heat during the day for slow release at night (or over even longer periods) to minimise the need for supplementary heating. Absorbing heat in this way can also reduce overheating on hot days.

Personal lifestyles, personal footprints

To cast light on some personal lifestyles in the region, several volunteers living in the South West calculated their own ecological footprints using Personal Stepwise™. Although the group of volunteers is in no way intended to be representative of the South West, the results demonstrate how individuals' everyday activities and decisions impact on the environment, and show the complexity of decisions we make everyday – balancing our quality of life with our ecological footprints.

Our volunteers' responses highlight some important issues for people in the South West. For example, the availability of public transport and the need to travel to and for work, force decisions about car use. Food, too, was highlighted, with several people mentioning locally produced animal products. As is seen in the section on food, a slightly higher consumption of animal products raised the South West food footprint above the national average.

Combining low values from several volunteers, it is possible to create a composite footprint which almost achieves earthshare (see Figure 7). Although none of the volunteers has a one planet lifestyle, several of them have at least one footprint component at a near-sustainable level. This suggests that in principle a sustainable lifestyle is achievable, even in the UK.

Figure 7
A sustainable lifestyle ecological footprint produced by combining low volunteer components

fig 7

The complete Personal Lifestyles vignette can be seen in the Ecological Footprint Report.