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?

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

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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Coal power plants outside European borders ‘supply electricity to the EU’

Countries outside European borders are increasingly supplying electricity to the EU while simultaneously avoiding the bloc’s carbon price, according to a new report from climate think tank Sandbag. The report: The path of least resistance – how electricity generated from coal is leaking into th...

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Energy Insight: Future business models in electricity

As the UK moves towards a low carbon economy, technological, economical and societal developments lead to changes in business models, and vice versa, notably in the electricity system. In this Insight we will explore: The structure of the UK electricity system and the traditional business model oper...

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Who said electricity and water don’t mix?

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

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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Events and training

Aviation Jet Fuel - September 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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Powering Net Zero

The Energy Institute is delighted to launch its new conference, Powering Net Zero, designed to discuss ways in which clean electricity and electrification can help reduce emissions globally to net-zero.

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Technical guidance publications

Controlling the risk from static electricity - DVD training tool

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

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

 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

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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