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The UK went a whole day without needing coal-fired electricity in 2017 for the first time since the 19th century – a record extended to more than 90 hours in 2019

Derived from the flow of electric charge, electricity has become an integral part of modern life. Many work, communication, transport and leisure activities depend on this form of energy. Given its important role in our lives, access to a secure supply of electricity is essential. Most electricity globally is produced from fossil fuels in large power plants, where heat energy from burning coal, natural gas, or oil is converted into electricity. However, low-carbon sources – nuclear energy and renewables such as solar, wind, hydro and biomass – are making up increasingly large proportions of the global generation mix as a result of efforts to mitigate climate change as well as falling technology costs. The electricity from the generators is typically fed into an electrical grid to be delivered to the consumers. Electricity first flows over large distances through the transmission network and then within regional distribution networks before finally getting delivered into our homes and businesses.

Continually matching the supply of electricity with demand is a complex task. Electricity markets are therefore designed not only to ensure ahead of time that sufficient generation capacity is available for the expected demand (typically through forward contracts) but also to perform real-time balancing using flexibility measures such as dispatchable generation, energy storage and interconnection. Nevertheless, the electricity system is transforming towards an even more complex future. While a higher share of intermittent renewables and decentralised generation in the mix disrupt the supply side, the demand side is challenged by a high level of uncertainty as electrification of heat and transport is advanced as a key decarbonisation strategy. Thus, the future will bring about additional roles for the grid, a greater need for flexibility and new business models, all of which will make electricity systems increasingly dependent upon digital technologies.

Learn more about these sources of electricity by exploring our Energy Matrix.

Discover UK energy professionals' views of the future of electricity, gathered in our annual Energy Barometer.

Search for articles on electric vehicles and the role of electricity in transport published in our magazines.

What's new?

A distributed electricity ‘taxonomy’

1-04-2019
Distributed electricity generation could be the key to remedying global inequalities in energy access, as well as providing resilience in the face of extreme weather events, write Bernard Bulkin, Stephanie Gallo Mendoza and Iain Staffell.

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Renewable electricity generation hits record high in Scotland

28-03-2019
The generation of renewable electricity in Scotland reached record levels last year, according to official statistics. Statistics published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) indicate an equivalent of 74.6% of gross electricity consumption was from renewable s...

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Offshore wind partnership ‘to provide a third of UK electricity by 2030’

20-03-2019
The new joint government-industry Offshore Wind Sector Deal will result in offshore wind generating more than 30% of British electricity by 2030, according to Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry announcing the agreement last month. If it succeeds, then more electricity will be generat...

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Improving power quality can cut electricity use

1-03-2019
Few energy users understand that a welcome side effect of power quality improvement is a reduction in the use of electricity, writes Steve Hughes of REO UK.

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UK electricity generation falls to lowest level since 1994, with low carbon sources dominating

10-01-2019
Electricity generation from renewable sources rose to a record high last year, accounting for an estimated one-third of the UK total, according to analysis by Carbon Brief.Adding the contribution of nuclear plants, low carbon sources supplied just over half (53%) of UK generation in 2018, with the s...

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Events and training

The new integrated Single Electricity Market for Ireland: I-SEM

23-05-2019
The Energy Institute Ireland branch and the Energy and Environment Division of Engineers Ireland, invite you to attend a talk by Brendan O Sullivan of EirGrid on the Integrated Single Energy Market in Ireland and learnings from the market go-live in October 2017.

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Aviation jet fuel

1-10-2019
This 3-day training course will provide delegates with an overview of aviation jet fuel, focusing on the jet engine, its underlying principles and fuel requirements as well as the critical characteristics of jet fuel, including additives, Industry best practice adopted in the supply, handling and us...

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Energy Sustainability Conference

17-10-2019
The Energy Institute Nigeria has put together this conference to lend its voice among other energy players in Nigeria and the African Energy space to chart a pathway for a sustainable energy future. We believe the subject of Energy Sustainability is one that concerns every citizen of the world today...

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Middle East HSE and Sustainability Week

8-12-2019
This week will bring together two conferences, focusing on HSE and sustainability, to deliver essential learning and sharing of international good practice to organisations across the energy industry from 8-10 December 2019.

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Technical guidance publications

Risks of Static Electricity: DVD and guidelines bundle

2013
To place an order, please contact our distributors:t: +44 (0)1767 604 951 e: energyinst@turpin-distribution.comIn industrial environments, where flammable atmospheres are present, static electricity can have devastating effects. In the petroleum industry, static electricity is a key conce...

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Controlling the risk from static electricity - DVD training tool

2013
Static electricity is a phenomenon most of us will have experienced. In industrial environments, where flammable atmospheres are present, it can have devastating effects. To complement EI Model code of safe practice Part 21: Guidelines for the control of hazards arising from static electricity, the ...

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Model Code of Safe Practice Part 21: Guidelines for the control of hazards arising from static electricity

2013
 Essential reading for all those involved in the fuels distribution and supply chain, this document provides up to date guidance on key equipment, procedures and operational practices used for reducing static electric ignition risk.In the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulatio...

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CIBSE Guide K: Electricity in Buildings

2005
Provides information on electrical services in buildings. For 'lighters' - offers information on power factor correction, power supplies, uninterruptible power supplies and batteries.For lifts specialists - covers high voltage systems and electromagnetic compatibility and sources of interference.For...

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