Not sure of the difference between kilowatts and megawatts? Figuring out how much electricity we use and what which items are the most power-hungry is no easy task. Let alone understand where electricity comes from and how it moves around Great Britain.

If you want to know what electricity is, how it’s generated and how we, at National Grid ESO, manage the tricky business of balancing supply and demand, you’ve come to the right place.

Great Britain’s electricity system is one of the oldest, most complex – and most fascinating – in the world. Every year the ESO moves 300 Terawatt Hours (TWh) of electricity - equivalent to four trillion kettles boiling at once – around our system, all while enabling the transformation to a sustainable energy system.

We’re experts in all things electricity and some of the world’s top engineers are working for us to innovate and shape our zero carbon system of the future. And we want to share all that knowledge with you.

Electricity Explained brings the hot topics to life so if you’re confused about coal, bemused about balancing, or simply want to know more about your own electricity consumption, you’re in the right place.

We’ll help make sense of it all for you here – on Electricity Explained.


What is electricity?

At the ESO, we love all things electricity. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself what electricity actually is? 

Put simply, electricity is a form of energy that can be produced in different ways to provide power for things to work.  

At the ESO, we operate the flow of electricity all over Great Britain. We make sure that the right amount of electricity gets to the right places so that people can use electricity when they need it.  

We don’t generate electricity ourselves. We get electricity from producers like wind farms, solar farms and coal plants. Electricity is then transported through the transmission network, balancing supply and demand second by second, 24/7. 

Think of it like a network of roads and motorways. High voltage electricity runs up and down the UK on the transmission networks (the motorways) while Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) provide the local cables (A roads) to take the electricity to our homes and businesses.