Electricity explained

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.


How does electricity move around?

Do you know your DNOs from your ESOs? How does electricity actually get to your home, around the country and overseas?


Electricity and me

Electricity bills aren’t always easy to understand so it can be tricky to know how much energy you’re using and how to reduce your usage.

National Grid ESO - Power cuts explained  - sunrise over dark row of houses

Why do power cuts happen?

If you experience a power cut, it’s likely to be a local issue, and therefore one for your DNO. You should call 105 to report the issue.

Light bulbs Getty

What is electricity?

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

Family riding through field on bikes with wind turbines in distance SP

How do we generate electricity?

How we generate electricity is changing as we head towards a greener future.

Control room balancing the grid

How do we balance the grid?

The role of the ESO is to ensure electricity supply meets demand second by second, which is what we mean by ‘balancing’ the grid.

National Grid ESO - summer outlook report 2020 - children with solar panel

Great Britain’s Electricity Explained Report

Every month, we share a snapshot of Great Britain’s electricity generation and use.

Find out about the month’s electricity generation and how much came from sources such as wind, solar and biomass.

You can also see the carbon intensity of the electricity we used.

Read the latest report