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?

Renewable electricity powers wind turbine blade manufacturer

8-02-2021
Black Dog Biogas, the owner and operator of an anaerobic digestion plant near Newport on the Isle of Wight, has completed commissioning of a private wire to supply renewable electricity to Vestas’ neighbouring wind blade manufacturing facility. The project will supply low-carbon electricity to Vesta...

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Second electricity link to France starts flowing

7-02-2021
National Grid’s second electricity interconnector linking the UK and France – IFA2 – is now able to flow electricity between the two countries at full capacity. Wholesale power traders started buying capacity to transport power across the 240-km subsea power cable, which stretches along the sea floo...

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The case for outsourcing electricity management

1-01-2021
With increasing concerns about the cost of compliance breaches and the impact of system outages, a third-party management model makes sense for major high-voltage electricity customers, writes Vattenfall Network Solutions’ Stewart Dawson.

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Scottish wind farm re-energises electricity grid

17-11-2020
ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) is claiming a global first – using energy from a 69 MW onshore windfarm to re-energise part of the power grid. The success of the project, at Dersalloch wind farm in South Ayrshire, proves that wind power can restore a ‘blacked-out’ section of the transmission network,...

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Addressing unreliable electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa

1-10-2020
Energy investment plans in the developing world often focus on increasing access to electricity. However, in many Sub-Saharan African countries the problem is low system reliability, reports Simon Trace.

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Events and training

CIRED 2021

20-09-2021
CIRED, Europe’s leading International Conference and Exhibition on Power Distribution are hosting their 26th International conference in Geneva, Switzerland from 20 – 23 September 2021. CIRED is your opportunity to hear new research, ideas and initiatives from world leading experts over ...

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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 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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