Measured in terms of electricity generation (2013), the energy industry is based 63.9% on oil, natural gas and coal, 7.7% on wind, 2.9% on biomass and 1.3% on hydropower. In 2013, nuclear energy accounted for 1.89% of electricity generation. As the first nuclear power plant in the world, Calder Hall supplied electricity in 1956; it was shut down on March 31, 2003. At the beginning of 2014, 16 reactor units were still in operation. The British nuclear power plants mainly consist of pressurized water reactors, which for reasons of age will have to be taken off the grid by 2035. The UK Atomic Energy Authority (founded in 1954) is responsible for the technological development of the UK nuclear program and the decommissioning of older nuclear power plants. Even after the Fukushima disaster (Japan) in March 2011, Great Britain and Northern Ireland are sticking to the use and further expansion of nuclear energy. The construction of two new reactors each is planned for Sizewell on the south-east coast of England and for Hinkley Point on the Bristol Channel (south-west England).
The basic structures created during the industrial revolution still determine the industrial landscape today. Industry is mainly concentrated in central England, the London area, the Tyne region (north-east England), the Scottish lowlands, south Wales and around Belfast. In the manufacturing industry, 20% of all gainfully employed people are employed, which (2014) generate 19.8% of GDP. The sharp decline in employees in the manufacturing sector compared to 1980, when 8.9 million (38.8%) were still active in this branch of industry, documents the profound changes in the British economy in recent decades. The industry has been in an adjustment process for a long time. Due to their low productivity, many industrial sectors were technological obsolescence and outdated organizational structures are no longer competitive and experienced a strong contraction process, especially in the steel, shipbuilding, textile and metal sectors. The iron and steel industry is now concentrated in three major smelting sites in North East England (Lackenby-Redcar and Scunthorpe) and Wales; smaller steel mills still exist in Sheffield.
In regional terms, the old industrial areas in the north of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland were hardest hit by the capacity and employment losses. However, the decline in these regions was mitigated by some important foreign direct investment (e.g. by Nissan Motor Manufacturing Ltd. in north-east England). In South Wales, the settlement of numerous foreign companies in the vehicle industry (mainly Japanese companies) has even led to a slight economic recovery. Modern growth industries in the high-tech sector (computers, biotechnology) have mainly settled west of London and around Cambridge as well as in central Scotland (“Silicon Glen”).
The formerly very numerous state-owned companies have been privatized since the 1980s with a few exceptions: Among others, British Telecom (today: BT Group plc.), British Petroleum (today: BP plc.). British Steel (now part of the Indian company Tata Steel) was restructured in the early 1980s and privatized in late 1988. By closing older plants, introducing modern technology and reducing the number of jobs by more than 100,000, productivity has increased significantly.
The decline of the once important shipbuilding industry could not be stopped significantly by the production of offshore systems for the oil industry. In the early 1980s, the automotive industry also fell into a serious crisis. Today the entire auto industry is foreign owned. The once important textile and clothing industry also suffered severe losses; Besides London, their traditional centers are primarily Manchester and Leeds. The printing industry is also one of the most traditional branches of industry, as British publishing plays a leading role in the English-speaking world. The ceramic industry is concentrated around Stoke-on-Trent (Potteries).
The UK transport system is based on road traffic. In Great Britain and Northern Ireland there is left-hand traffic. In 2012 there were 499 cars for every 1,000 residents. The road network covers around 419,600 km, of which around 3,700 km are motorways.
Great Britain and Northern Ireland have a relatively dense rail network of 16,423 km. The rail passenger network includes, inter alia. an intercity network that links the main centers of the country with one another and is particularly strongly geared towards London. Eurotunnel, a British-French group, has operated passenger and freight shuttle services between the Folkestone and Calais terminals since 1994. Eurostar high-speed trains connect London (Waterloo) with Paris or Brussels (in less than three hours) and also with other centers. Overall, the now profit-oriented rail network of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is still in great need of improvement. The further expansion of the route network for high-speed trains via London, Manchester to Liverpool is planned.
Around two thirds of the total passenger volume is accounted for by the five London airports Heathrow, Gatwick, Stanstead, Luton and City Airport, of which Heathrow is the largest international airport with (2014) 73.4 million passengers, followed by Gatwick with 38.1 million Passengers. Other major international airports are Manchester, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Belfast International.
Great Britain and Northern Ireland has 3,200 km of inland waterways, most of which date from the early industrial period. Only a small part is still commercially navigable today (Thames, Manchester Ship Canal). However, numerous canals have been reopened for water tourism in recent years. Great Britain and Northern Ireland occupy a subordinate position among the shipping nations with 15.876 million GT (2013). The sharp decline in the importance of the British merchant fleet since the 1970s is primarily a result of flagging out (flags of convenience) and the loss of government support. Major seaports are London, Grimsby and Immingham, Tees and Hartlepool, Forth, Sullom Voe (Shetland), Southampton, Milford Haven, Felixstowe, and Liverpool Dover. The Port of London, relocated further downstream after the closure of the old Docklands, is the country’s main universal port. Numerous formerly important ports are currently being converted, e.g. B. Liverpool, Manchester, Swansea, Hull. There are numerous ferry connections for passenger and freight traffic with mainland Europe and Ireland.