What is the most energy intensive industry? (UK)

Article posted

22nd Mar 2024

Read time

2-3 min read


Mollie Pinnington

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The UK's business sector burns through a significant amount of gas and electricity every year, but which industry is the biggest energy consumer? According to recent statistics, the surprising answer is the food and beverage industry!

That's right, in 2023, the industry responsible for keeping our plates full also topped the charts for gas consumption. These businesses devoured a whopping 1,603 thousand tonnes of oil equivalent in gas – that's a 1.1% lead over the chemicals industry, which came in second place at 1,585 thousand tonnes.

So, what's behind this high energy use? Food and beverage production involves a variety of processes that require a lot of power. Here are a few reasons:

  • Heating and Cooling: From large-scale pasteurisation to maintaining consistent temperatures for brewing and fermentation, precise temperature control is crucial for many food and beverage products.
  • Food Processing: Many stages of food production, like milling grains or baking, are energy-intensive.
  • Refrigeration: Keeping food fresh throughout the supply chain requires significant refrigeration, especially for perishables like meat and dairy products.

While the food and beverage industry might seem like an unexpected leader in gas consumption, it highlights the complex energy demands across different sectors. As we strive for a more sustainable future, these industries will need to find innovative ways to reduce their environmental impact. This could involve adopting more energy-efficient technologies, utilising renewable energy sources, and optimising production processes.

By continuing to explore these options, the food and beverage industry can keep our plates full while also reducing its reliance on fossil fuels.

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