The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has released its December energy statistics for 2011. The figures show a record drop in primary energy production by 14 percent on 2010 levels to 136.3 million tonnes of oil equivalent.

Following the second warmest year since records began, primary energy consumption also dropped by 7 percent, continuing the downward trend of the last five years. Despite the falling demand, output from low-carbon technologies increased whilst traditional, carbon-intensive energy production continued to fall.

The demand for gas hit its lowest level for 16 years, thanks to a combination of mild weather and reduced generator use. For the first time ever, gas imported exceeded UK production. Despite lower UK production, gas exports hit record highs, comfortably surpassing the previous UK gas production peak in 2000.

For the first time since 1978, crude oil imports exceeded UK production. However, the UK remained a significant exporter of petroleum products, with net exports totalling 5.2 million tonnes, the highest since 2005.

The annual figures reveal the UK’s fuel mix for electricity generation over the last year. Gas accounted for 41 percent of electricity supplied in 2011, with coal accounting for 32 percent and nuclear 20 percent. Wind’s contribution to the fuel mix grew from 2.4 percent to 4.0 percent in 2011; with hydro’s share up from 0.8 to 1.5 percent.

Therefore, energy from low-carbon sources now accounts for a quarter of major power producers’ generation, up 5 percentage points on 2010 levels.   

DECC states that only complete annual estimates are available for major power producers at this stage, meaning that the annual statistics exclude auto-producers and some renewable sources.

DECC will publish more detailed estimates on March 29 in its Energy Trends and Quarterly Energy Prices document. The Digest of UK Energy Statistics (DUKES) will be published on July 26.