More of Britain’s electricity production in 2019 is set to come from zero carbon energy sources than fossil fuels for the first time since the Industrial Revolution

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?

Hybrid electricity plant for remote Philippines island

16-05-2020
Siemens Gamesa will supply a hybrid energy project on an island in the Philippines, to provide a stable electricity supply in a location with a weak link to the grid, reducing its dependence on diesel. The project, located in in Puerto Galera, will combine a 16 MW wind farm and a 6 MW battery stora...

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Uzbekistan unveils new 10-year strategy for electricity provision

4-05-2020
Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Energy has unveiled a programme of reforms to meet increasing energy demand from a growing population and a fast-developing economy.The strategy defines mid-term and long-term objectives and directions for the development of country’s power sector from 2020 to 2030. It plans...

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UK sets new record for longest period of coal-free electricity generation

28-04-2020
The UK has set a new record for the longest period of coal-free electricity generation in the country, reports National Grid. The previous record of 18 days, 6 hours and 10 minutes – set in June 2019 – was broken on the morning of 28 April 2020, marking over 438 hours and 10 minutes since the last c...

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Renewables overtake fossil fuels in Britain's electricity mix for first time

16-04-2020
Renewables have overtaken fossil fuels as the main source of electricity in Great Britain for the first time after a particularly windy season, and a slowdown in demand due to coronavirus. Wind, solar, biomass and hydropower accounted for 44.6 per cent of electricity supply between January and ...

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COVID-19 crisis shows need to keep electricity options open, says Birol

23-03-2020
The huge disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis has highlighted how much modern societies rely on electricity and how firm capacity, such as that provided by nuclear power, is a crucial element in ensuring supply, International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director Fatih Birol believes. &...

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Events and training

EI LIVE free webinar | Targeting Net Zero

11-06-2020
Charting your organisation’s response to the climate emergency

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Energy Efficiency: The Road to Net Zero

23-09-2020
Discover the latest approaches and strategies in energy efficiency that can help the UK reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

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Aviation Jet Fuel - September 2020

29-09-2020
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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Asset Management

6-10-2020
Future-proofing asset management through latter stages of production operating life into a net zero energy transition model towards greener, carbon neutral industrial model.

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Powering Net Zero

8-10-2020
The Energy Institute’s new conference, Powering Net Zero, is designed to discuss ways in which clean electricity and electrification will be essential in reducing emissions globally to net zero.

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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 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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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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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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