World electricity demand increased by 4% in 2018, growing nearly twice as fast as overall energy demand

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?

Global electricity demand expanding faster than renewables

27-08-2021
Renewables are expanding quickly – but not enough to satisfy a strong rebound in global electricity demand.Analysts at the International Energy Agency...

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UK Government to tighten electricity 'greenwashing' rules

14-08-2021
The government is to review how energy retailers market ‘green’ electricity tariffs to consumers, amid concerns that some are overstating how environm...

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New technologies help to keep electricity systems stable

1-07-2021
Services provided by battery energy storage projects are increasingly important to operation of the GB electricity grid. Here, Noriker Power’s Alastai...

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Reforming electricity markets for innovation

1-07-2021
Do today’s electricity markets enable innovative, efficient, whole energy system decarbonisation? Not yet, explains a new report from Energy Syst...

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O Rudgard, Power cuts ‘will become more severe’ as electricity use explodes, Daily Telegraph, 16 June 2021, p 2

16-06-2021
In UK, The Government’s independent advisory committee on climate change predicts greater impacts of power outages following the increasing dependence...

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Events and training

EI LIVE free webinar | Installing Hywind Tampen: DOF Subsea & the world’s largest floating wind farm

29-09-2021
Registration for this event has now closed. If you'd like to attend please contact aberdeen@energyinst.org.This event is hosted as a free webinar from...

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EI LIVE | Aviation Jet Fuel - November 2021

17-11-2021
This 3-day training course will provide delegates with an overview of aviation jet fuel, focusing on the jet engine, its underlying principles and fue...

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Technical guidance publications

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 ...

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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...

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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...

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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, uninterrupti...

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