Last updated: 15 October 2020
In this guide you’ll find answers to the following questions:
Which energy suppliers are British-owned?
Which UK energy companies are foreign-owned?
Which UK suppliers are part of the big six?
Are there other UK energy suppliers?
Who is the best UK energy supplier?
The following non-exhaustive list covers British energy suppliers – those wholly owned by British companies. Click the name to find out more about the provider in question:
|Avro||2015||Nuneaton||40,000 (elec), 30,000 (gas)|
|Green Energy UK||2001||Ware||20,000+|
*Owned by OVO Energy, but still run as a separate business.
The following is a list of all energy suppliers that have UK headquarters, but are owned or part-owned by companies based outside Britain:
|Green Network Energy||Italy|
Currently, the only two wholly British-owned suppliers among the big six are British Gas, and SSE (now part of OVO Energy).
Originally founded in 1812 in Westminster, London, British Gas is the oldest and largest energy supplier in the UK. Along with providing energy to over 12 million consumers, British Gas also provides home services. These include home insurance for homeowners and landlords, and home improvement services through heating systems and home electrical upgrades.
Today, British Gas is a subsidiary of Centrica plc, which is a British multinational energy company, headquartered in Windsor, Berkshire. As a consumer, if you are looking for a large, traditional electricity supplier in the UK with British ties, look no further than British Gas.
The second-largest energy supplier in the UK, Scottish and Southern Energy plc (SSE), is headquartered in Perth, Scotland. Officially founded in 1998, after a merger between Scottish Hydro Electric and Southern Electric, SSE supplies around nine million customers throughout the UK.
SSE sold its household energy and services business to OVO, another British-owned company, while retaining control of its business energy customers. For now, SSE retains its own distinct identity with its own products and tariffs. Going forward, OVO’s acquisition of SSE’s domestic business is likely to shake up the traditional UK energy hierarchy.
Previously known as London Energy, EDF Energy is the product of an acquisition by Électricité de France (EDF), a French, state-owned energy supplier. EDF generates most of its power from nuclear power plants, as well as wind farms and coal and gas stations. Currently, EDF is constructing Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset, which will provide a projected 7% of UK power by 2025.
While EDF Energy is not British owned, it started as a London-based energy supplier before being acquired by the French-owned energy conglomerate. EDF claims to be the UK’s largest producer of low-carbon electricity, making it an attractive supplier if you want the comfort of a large, state-backed energy supplier with the means to reduce the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels.
Founded in 1901 in Glasgow as Clyde Valley Electrical Power Company, ScottishPower was UK-owned for over one hundred years. After rejecting a takeover bid from E.ON, the company was acquired in 2006 by Spanish energy firm Iberdrola, which is the world’s number-one producer of wind power.
ScottishPower recently announced all its fixed-price energy tariffs will come with 100% green electricity from its own wind farms – as a generator as well as supplier of green energy, its environmental credentials are among the best.
Created in 2000, E.ON is a German electric utility company that distributes utilities to customers throughout Europe.
While E.ON doesn’t generate all its own clean electricity, it was – according to Bloomberg – the first of the big six energy suppliers to supply all its customers with 100% renewable electricity, regardless of tariff.
E.ON’s promise is that its electricity is sourced from “E.ON’s renewable generation assets, supply agreements with independent UK wind generators and the purchase of renewable electricity certificates”.
npower ranks as the third-largest power supplier in the UK. In January 2019, the previously German-owned company announced it was being bought by E.ON – a merger of two of the big six meaning the energy market is now effectively the “big five”.
Having originally remained a separate business, npower is slowly starting to be incorporated into E.ON proper – customers looking to switch to npower will instead be directed to E.ON’s website instead.
There are many other smaller power suppliers in the UK. The most notable is OVO Energy, which acquired SSE’s entire household energy and services business in 2019, making it the second-largest supplier in the UK behind British Gas. OVO brings innovation and sustainability to the British energy sector, with aims of modernising the industry.
Founded in 2009, OVO has its sights set on becoming a carbon-free energy supplier with sustainably sourced electricity and carbon-neutral gas. Furthermore, along with its business goals, OVO also runs a charitable foundation that focuses on improving education access to at-risk youth in the UK and Kenya, creating access to electricity in rural parts of Kenya, and improving the youth homelessness crisis in the UK. OVO was founded and is headquartered in Bristol.
Another young energy company which is disrupting the UK energy industry is Bulb Energy. Bulb first entered the market in 2015, based in London, with hopes of bringing simpler, cheaper, and greener energy to UK energy consumers. Bulb claims to buy its energy from independent renewable generators from across the UK and provide its customers with 100% renewable electricity and carbon-neutral gas.
First entering the UK energy market in 2016, Octopus Energy is another start-up energy company to consider. Known and regarded for its excellent customer service, the London-based energy supplier came into the market with hopes of changing the traditional landscape for a new era of corporate transparency and green energy in the UK. Octopus serves over 400,000 customers across the UK and regularly earns five-star customer service ratings on review and comparison sites such as Trustpilot and uSwitch. It has steadily absorbed various other energy companies, including Co-op Energy.
One of the oldest suppliers outside of the big six – Ecotricity – is also British-owned. It was a pioneer in green energy, and currently combines 100% renewable electricity with plans to develop its own “gassmills” to deliver carbon-neutral gas too.
Ultimately, the best UK energy supplier for your needs depends on what you want from a supplier. If you’re looking for a big, traditional supplier with historical roots in the UK, British Gas is a great choice. Meanwhile, if you see value in being part of an international supplier who has ties throughout the world, EDF Energy and E.ON would likely be the go-to choices. Finally, if you fancy modern, millennial values such as environmental sustainability and great customer service, the younger companies such as OVO Energy and Bulb are excellent options for green energy in the UK.
This means that there is a great variety of British energy suppliers to choose from when making your decision. With the emergence of firms such as OVO, Bulb, and Octopus, the big six are no longer having it all their own way. All in all, customers can hope for cheaper tariffs, better customer service and increasingly green energy from all suppliers.
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