Electricity

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World electricity demand increased by 5% in 2021, with nearly 50% of the increase met by fossil fuels

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 Insights on this topic.

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 New Energy World magazine.

What's new?

Octopus signs ‘world’s biggest’ battery-leasing deal with Gresham House

12/06/2024

The deal – reportedly the biggest of its kind in the world – will connect just over 50% of GRID’s large-scale batteries to Octopus’ technology platfor...

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Slow progress in the EU power sector undermining low-carbon transition

12/06/2024

With the EU power sector increasingly under pressure to decarbonise, a new report by enterprise sustainability data services provider GRESB has reveal...

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New agri-solar park connects to Spanish grid, while solar energy is forecast to hit record level in Middle East by mid-century

05/06/2024

The newly commissioned 54 MWp photovoltaic (PV) park in Alhendín, near Granada, integrates renewable electricity production and agriculture, and is pr...

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France commissions first wind farm offshore Brittany

05/06/2024

The Saint-Brieuc wind farm has a total capacity of 496 MW and its 62 wind turbines are now feeding into the national electricity grid, managed by RTE....

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Australia’s first eight-hour battery to be co-located at NSW solar farm

05/06/2024

RWE’s eight-hour lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS) was the only successful project in NSW’s first long duration storage long-term energ...

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Events and training

EI Nigeria YPN Career Gist

27/06/2024

Event Summary The YPN Career Gist, Energy Institute Young Professionals Network (EI YPN, Nigeria) program is a learning initiative for all energy prof...

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British Institute of Energy Economics Policy Conference 2024

18/09/2024

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Technical guidance publications

SafetyOn Electrical safety good practice guidelines: Wind turbine generator high voltage access awareness

2024

This first edition of the SafetyOn good practice guidelines: Wind Turbine Generator High Voltage Access Awareness covers the minimum safety training r...

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Guidance on green and low carbon hydrogen production: plant design, construction, operation and maintenance, co-location and other considerations

2024

‘Hydrogen economy’ is an umbrella term used to describe the role that hydrogen plays in the broader economy, including as a fuel, as an en...

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Guidance on green and low carbon hydrogen production: plant design, construction, operation and maintenance, co-location and other considerations

2024

‘Hydrogen economy’ is an umbrella term used to describe the role that hydrogen plays in the broader economy, including as a fuel, as an en...

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Guidance on large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) system design, development and operation

2023

Solar photovoltaic (PV), which converts sunlight into electricity, is an important source of renewable energy in the 21st century. PV plant installati...

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Research report: Application of life cycle assessment methodology to the understanding of the energy balance and efficiency of hydrogen value chain building blocks

2022

This document is free to download for registered users.This publication explores the efficiencies of the hydrogen energy system and quantifies the ene...

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Online tools and software collection

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