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?

UK energy reduction scheme creates 108 MW of grid flexibility in first test session

30/11/2022

Over 200,000 customers opted into the initiative’s first test session, which was conducted between 5–6 pm on 15 November. According to the results, th...

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Europe’s biggest battery energy storage system now online

30/11/2022

Developed by Harmony Energy and employing a Tesla two-hour Megapack system, the Pillswood project, near Hull, can store enough electricity to power ar...

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New focus on European energy deals

30/11/2022

Across Europe, countries have stated their ambition to scale up their energy resilience in the wake of Russia’s unjustified military assault on Ukrain...

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UK Autumn Statement: More heat on average energy users and 45% levy on low carbon electricity generators

23/11/2022

Let’s look at the statement in detail. Energy bills: Many were concerned to learn that help with escalating energy bills is being scaled back. Fr...

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Big solar plans unveiled

23/11/2022

Eni and Sonatrach have inaugurated their ‘Solar Lab’ test facility and laid the first stone of a 10 MW photovoltaic (PV) plant in the Bir Rebaa North ...

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Events and training

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Technical guidance publications

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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A site operator's guide to electric vehicle charging equipment at filling stations

2022

This document is aimed at operators of filling stations and those responsible for deciding whether or not to install electric vehicle charging equipme...

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Waste to products – Technology and economic assessment (phase 1)

2022

This document is free to download for registered users.The EMG and Soil Wastes and Groundwater group (SWG) of the EI and Concawe have commissioned E4t...

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Best available techniques (BAT): Good practice for the oil and gas industry

2022

This guidance has been produced to inform good practice when undertaking best available techniques (BAT) assessments for offshore combustion equipment...

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IP 630: Determination of the concentration of dispersed particles in diesel fuel – Automatic Particle Counter (APC) Light Obscuration Method

2022

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