Six companies dominate the energy market in the UK, and they are often called the ‘Big Six’. The Big Six comprises of British Gas, EDF, SSE, npower, E.ON UK and ScottishPower. The Electricity Act 1989 opened the door to the world of privatisation of the energy industry and consequently, we saw the emergence of the Big Six companies in the market. Let us now explore a bit more about the Big Six energy suppliers in the UK.
Big Six energy suppliers in the UK
British Gas is the largest energy supplier in the UK which supplies a number of products/services e.g. gas, electricity, boilers, boiler cover, and others. As of 2017 (Q4), it has 20% market share in the domestic electricity supply market. It also has 31% market share in the domestic gas supply market (Ofgem, 2018).
EDF Energy is a French state owned company. It produces around 20% of the UK’s electricity and supplies gas and electricity to around 5 million domestic and business accounts in the UK (EDF Energy, 2018). As of 2017 (Q4), it has 9% market share in the domestic gas supply market and 11% share in the domestic electricity supply market (Ofgem, 2018).
E.ON UK is a subsidiary of the German company E.ON. Around 9400 people work for the company across the UK. It has 11% market share in the UK domestic gas supply market and 13% share in the domestic electricity supply market (Ofgem, 2018). It is worth mentioning that there are around five million customers who use E.ON services in the UK (E.ON UK plc. 2018).
npower is part of the Innogy group. Innogy group is a leading energy company in Germany that operates in sixteen countries across Europe. It considers Germany, the UK, the Netherlands and Belgium as its key markets. As of 2017 (Q4), npower has 8% market share in the UK domestic gas supply market and 10% share in the domestic electricity supply market (Ofgem, 2018).
ScottishPower is a subsidiary of Spanish utility company Iberdrola. It offers services to over 5 million households and businesses across the UK (ScottishPower Ltd, 2018). As of 2017 (Q4), it has 9% market share in the domestic gas supply market. It also has 10% share in the domestic electricity supply market (Ofgem, 2018).
SSE is another big giant among the Big Six energy suppliers in the UK. You may know that SSE plc is a Scottish energy company. It has business operations in United Kingdom and Ireland. As of 2017 (Q4), it has 11% market share in the UK domestic gas supply market. It also has 14% share in the domestic electricity supply market (Ofgem, 2018).
Many people have been questioning about the role of the Big Six in the UK energy market. They often think that the Big Six control the market and raise prices unfairly. However, the Big Six always maintain that they act reasonably and responsibly.
A good number of smaller suppliers have already entered into the UK energy market to challenge the Big Six to some extent. Consequently, we have seen a decline in the market share of the Big Six. The Big Six had 84% of the market share in 2016; however, the market share came down to 79% for electricity and 78% for gas in December 2017 (Reuters, 2018). It should be mentioned that the energy suppliers are under massive pressure by the government of the UK to reduce their bills.
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Last update: 11 May 2018
EDF Energy (2018) How we operate, available at: https://www.edfenergy.com/about/how-we-operate (Accessed 06 May 2018)
E.ON UK plc. (2018)At a glance https://www.eonenergy.com/About-eon/our-company/at-a-glance (Accessed 06 May 2018)
npower (2018) About npower, available at: https://www.npower.com/home/about-npower/ (Accessed 08 May 2018)
Ofgem (2018) Electricity supply market shares by company: Domestic (GB) https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/data-portal/electricity-supply-market-shares-company-domestic-gb (Accessed 08 May 2018)
Reuters (2018) Market share of UK big six energy firms at record low in 2017-regulator, available at: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-energy/market-share-of-uk-big-six-energy-firms-at-record-low-in-2017-regulator-idUKKCN1GC005 (Accessed 10 May 2018)
ScottishPower Ltd (2018) About ScottishPower, available at: https://www.scottishpower.co.uk/about-us/ (Accessed 08 May 2018)
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Author: M Rahman
M Rahman writes extensively online and offline with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.