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?

Who said electricity and water don’t mix?

1-11-2019
The maritime sector is looking to electricity as one option to power vessels, writes Nic Newman.

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N Newman, Who said electricity and water don’t mix? Petroleum Review, November 2019, p 30

1-11-2019
In the marine world, although ships account for about 2% of global CO2 while carrying about 90% of the world’s commodities, a marked reduction in emissions is vital since, for example, one large ship emits as much CO2 as 70 000 cars. Although the new ultra-low sulphur marine fuels will help, the fut...

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Can electricity fully decarbonise road transport?

1-09-2019
Vehicle transport should be a simple sector to decarbonise. New models of electric vehicles (EVs) are constantly being introduced, and charge points are appearing across major European cities. But is electrification a silver bullet solution? Jennifer Johnson looks at some alternative technologies.

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Renewable electricity rose to a third of the UK total in 2018: new ministers

1-08-2019
The proportion of UK electricity from renewable sources continued to rise during 2018, reaching a record 33% of the total – up by 4% from the 2017 figure – as the amount of renewable generating capacity increased to reach 44 GW. This is perhaps the most dramatic change in UK energy patterns over the...

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National Grid ESO adds its voice on zero carbon by 2025, for electricity

15-07-2019
Reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is achievable, but requires immediate action across the whole energy system, according to the latest annual Future Energy Scenarios report from National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO). Greater coordination across electricity, gas, heat and transport...

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Events and training

Flexible Energy Networks: Designing the 21st Century Power Grid

30-01-2020
Please join EI London YPN for a panel debate and an evening of networking with thought leaders in flexibility for the UK energy market. Drinks and nibbles will be provided.

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Orbital Marine Power – delivering low cost tidal energy

11-02-2020
<p>The presentation will explain the conceptual benefits of the Orbital Marine floating tidal technology across construction, installation and operational phases of a tidal energy project.</p>

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The Hydrogen Economy Once it had a past, but what is its outlook?

18-02-2020
Join the EI East Midlands branch for a talk on the hydrogen economy.

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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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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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