Last Updated: 10 August 2023
Energy Suppliers in the UK – Where are we now?
In the wake of the recent energy crisis, the UK energy supply market has undergone a profound transformation. The crisis, which began in August 2021, resulted in the collapse of numerous energy suppliers. Whereas there were once 70 companies competing in the domestic energy market in the UK, that number has collapsed to just 21.
Since the energy crisis began, 27 domestic energy suppliers have gone bust in a short period of just 11 months. And of the those remaining, pretty much none seem particularly keen on winning over new customers. For now at least. So what’s going on?
How did we get here?
If the UK energy retail market was an ecosystem, the recent collapse of UK energy suppliers would have been declared an ecological disaster. Akin to a mass extinction event. However, unlike the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction (K-T extinction) of 66 million years ago, that wiped out the dinosaurs and 80% of all species of animals, yet allowed many small mammals to survive, this particular extinction event has had the opposite size effect.
In the energy supplier extinction of 2021/2022, it is the smaller energy suppliers that have gone to the wall. In contrast, the dinosaurs of the energy industry, often referred to as the Big 6 (see below) have grown fatter and stronger as the regulator, Ofgem, has thrown them the carcasses of the failed energy suppliers to gorge on.
That feeding frenzy came with a cost. The energy dinosaurs didn’t just get a free lunch (the customers of the failed energy suppliers). They also had to be paid for the indigestion that the gorging caused.
These payments are called Last Resort Supply Payments (LRSP). They are made to cover the admin expenses that the new energy supplier incurs in taking on the customers of the failed energy supplier, and for protecting any credit balances of the failed suppliers’ customers.
These costs are substantial; they amounted to £1.8 billion in 2022 alone. These costs then get mutualised. That means they get distributed among all consumers, leading to inflated energy bills for households across the UK.
The Great Energy Dinosaur Bail-Out
But it didn’t stop there. Having fattened up the energy dinosaurs, the regulator decided they needed protecting, to ensure they couldn’t get eaten themselves. So Ofgem threw a safety net around them. A metaphorical Jurassic Park, so to speak, surrounded by an impenetrable moat (the Market Stabilisation Charge) that protects them from new and existing predators.
And that safety net also has a cost. Because while the energy dinosaurs are protected, they have no incentive to compete. They don’t need to start feeding off of each other, when there are plenty of available resources in the park (healthy and stable profit margins from their existing customers). Indeed, they are actively punished for going after each other. If one energy supplier tries to take a bite out of another’s customer base, they need to make a payment back to that first supplier. You take a bite out of my leg, and I get to take a smaller bite out of yours.
This protection comes at the expense of healthy market competition. It leaves consumers with fewer (practically none at present) choices and higher charges. Financially strapped households are paying £8 billion a year over the odds on their inflated energy bills. Complete and utter madness.
This is that point at which we need to remind ourselves that the regulator’s principal duty, as set out in the Gas and Electricity Acts,…
“is to protect the interests of consumers…., wherever appropriate by promoting effective competition… “
Someone will need to remind them?
Energy Suppliers in the UK in 2023
With the energy supply market having contracted to just 21 energy suppliers, we are back to a situation similar to that of 2013. However, back then, there was a vibrant and competitive energy market with competition growing for the benefit of consumers. Today, we have no price competition to speak of.
Given this upheaval, it has difficult to determine which UK energy suppliers are still active and which have gone bust. To address this issue, we have compiled a comprehensive and definitive list of UK energy suppliers, both past and present. For completeness, we have included not just licensed energy suppliers, but also their brands and any white label arrangements. For this reason, this Complete List of UK Energy Suppliers for 2023 covers more than the 70 suppliers that operated at the peak of the market in 2018.
Energy Suppliers UK Classification
Before we delve into the comprehensive list of energy suppliers in the UK, let’s briefly discuss the classifications used in the tables:
Operating – Active:
An energy supplier classified as “Operating – Active” holds its own gas and/or electricity license(s) and, under normal circumstances, actively acquires new energy customers. However, due to the energy crisis, which has impacted the energy switching market, some normally active suppliers may currently still be in “hibernation”.
Operating – Passive:
The category “Operating – Passive” refers to energy suppliers or brands that still serve existing customers but haven’t actively acquired new customers for some time. For example, Affect Energy, which was acquired by Octopus Energy. Octopus Energy continues to manage existing customers under the Affect Energy brand but has not taken on new customers on that brand since 2018.
Ceased Trading / Failed:
Energy suppliers falling under this category have either gone out of business (due to bankruptcy or license revocation by the regulator) or decided to exit the market by selling their customer base and discontinuing operations.
White Label Operation:
A white label arrangement involves a licensed energy supplier partnering with a well-known brand, such as Sainsbury’s. In this setup, the branded partner brings its name to the table, while the energy supplier handles customer onboarding, management, and billing under the brand’s identity. Both parties share the profit margin.
Octopus Energy is particularly active in the white label market presently. Previously, Robin Hood Energy played around in the white-label market with a focus on partnerships with predominantly Labour councils. It failed spectacularly. More on that below.
Active UK Energy Suppliers
Let’s start with who is still trading.
For the peace of mind and convenience of energy consumers, we’ve compiled a table listing the energy suppliers that are currently operating and active in the UK.
If your energy supplier is on this list, you can rest assured that they are still in business and providing energy services (although that does not come with any guarantees about the future).
In the event that an energy supplier ceases trading, it will be moved to our “Which Energy Suppliers Have Gone Bust” page.
The information in this table is based on the latest available data but is subject to change. We will do a monthly check up and update. So, to verify the status of your energy supplier, check back from time to time.
A quick word about the Taking on new customers? column. Most energy suppliers are now back to taking on new customers. However, don’t get too excited. This is mostly onto their Standard Default Tariffs, and price-wise, there is nothing to choose between these tariffs. The price of standard tariffs are virtually identical across all major energy suppliers (0.5% difference).
Some energy suppliers have started to offer one-year fixed price deals. We have checked these and have yet to see any that are worth taking. Most are more expensive than the standard tariffs and virtually all have chunky exit penalties. Remember, locking into a fixed deal at a premium price when the energy price cap is FALLING, is not a great idea.
Don’t worry; things are starting to change. Stay tuned and we will let you know when things kick off and there are energy tariffs worth switching to.
For comprehensive information about all energy suppliers, past and present, including those that are still trading, please refer to the detailed tables further down the page (below this one).
|Energy Supplier||White-label partner brands||Description||Taking on new customers?|
|The Big 6|
|British Gas||Big 6 (Old and New)||Yes|
|EDF Energy||Big 6 (Old and New)||Yes|
|E.ON||Big 6 (Old and New)||Yes|
|E.ON (White labels)||Sainsbury's Energy||Yes|
|Octopus Energy||Big 6 (New)||Yes|
|Octopus Energy (other brands)||Affect Energy||No|
|Octopus Energy (white labels)||Co-op Energy||Yes|
|OVO Energy||Big 6 (New)||Yes|
|OVO Energy (other (brands)||boost||boost is OVO's prepayment only brand. |
Boost is in the process of being wound down with customers being moved back onto the OVO energy brand.
|All customers supplied under the SSE brands are being moved over to OVO.|
The planned completion date is end of January 2024.
|ScottishPower||Big 6 (Old and New)||Yes|
|Other energy suppliers|
|100Green||Previously GEUK and before that Green Energy|
(or was it green energy uk - they could never make their minds up).
|E||Only supplies prepayment meter customers||Yes|
|Fuse Energy||New app based energy supplier launched on 19 July 2023.|
|Home Energy||New energy supplier launched around May 2023.|
Company accounts already overdue as at 10 Aug 2023 - not a great look.
|Outfox the Market||Yes|
|Shell Energy||Shell Group has put Shell Energy up for sale.|
Sale completion is expected in the "coming months".
|So Energy||Created from the merger of So Energy and ESB Energy in August 2021.||Yes|
|Tomato Energy||New supplier with a different proposition (apparently).|
If anyone understands what their tariffs are all about, please get in touch and let us know. #confused.
|Tulo Energy||Previously called Square1 - another energy supplier you've never heard of.||Yes|
|Utilita||Only accepting customers with prepayment meters currently.||Yes|
|Last Updated||10 August 2023|
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The Big 6 Energy Suppliers UK
The recent energy crisis is not the only event to have transformed UK energy supply market.
The landscape of the UK energy market has undergone significant transformations since its deregulation and privatization in the late 1990s, although at a much less frenetic and traumatic pace. This section delves into the evolution of the Big 6 energy suppliers, tracing their origins, consolidations, and the recent changes that have shaped the current market.
The Big 6 (Then)
What do we mean by the Big 6 energy suppliers?
When the gas and electricity markets were restructured, deregulated and privatised back in the late 1990’s, the energy industry was split into 15 companies. 1 gas supply company (British Gas) and 14 Regional Electricity Companies (RECs).
Over time, a wave of mergers and acquisitions led to the consolidation of these 15 companies into a smaller group of 6 ex-monopolist incumbents. These were known as the Big 6 energy suppliers.
- British Gas: The original gas supply company that persisted through the changes, and expanded, largely organically, into electricity supply
- EDF Energy: Formed from the merger of London Electricity, Seeboard and SWEB
- E.ON (previously PowerGen): Created through the merger of Eastern Electricity, East Midlands Electricity and Norweb
- npower: Formed from the merger of Midlands Electricity, Northern Electricity and Yorkshire Electricity
- SSE: Established following the merger of Southern Electric, Scottish Hydro-Electric, and SWALEC.
- ScottishPower: Formed from the merger of Manweb and ScottishPower.
Back in the day, the Original Big 6 had a reputation for being the bad boys of the energy market. There were a variety of reasons for this, which we will not delve into here.
The Big 6 Energy Suppliers (2023)
As competition in the UK energy market intensified, many of these industry giants found they couldn’t compete. Not least because of their own inefficiencies and general incompetence. That led to a further rationalisation of the industry.
npower was sold to, and merged with E.ON in January 2019
SSE was sold to OVO energy (a start-up founded in 2009) in January 2020
Octopus Energy, a start-up founded in 2015, grew spectacularly through the tried and tested route of a leaner more efficient organisation, cheaper pricing, better customer service and some very clever marketing. It’s growth trajectory took a significant leap forward when it acquired 1.7 million customers from Bulb Energy in December 2022, making it the second largest energy supplier in the UK.
Shell Energy entered the market through the acquisition of First:Utility in February 2019. However, with a relatively modest customer base (2 million customers) and mounting losses, Shell Energy never manage to join the ranks of the Big Boys. Amid mounting losses (£239 million of accrued losses to end 2021), the Shell Group has announced its intention to exit the market. The sale is expected to complete later in 2023.
Which leaves the Big 6 still as the Big 6 but with a different composition. The current Big 6 energy suppliers UK (listed alphabetically) are:
- British Gas
- EDF Energy
- Octopus Energy
- OVO Energy