Our response to coronavirus

Find out how we're working to keep Great Britain’s lights on reliably throughout the outbreak
National Grid ESO - our people - lady dancing at a festival

Who we are

We move electricity round Great Britain’s system to keep homes and businesses supplied with the energy they need 24/7, 365 days a year.

What does National Grid ESO do?

National Grid ESO is the electricity system operator for Great Britain.

Our control room moves electricity around the country second by second to ensure that the right amount of electricity is where it’s needed, when it’s needed – always keeping supply and demand in perfect balance.


National Grid ESO Control Centre - employee at computer

Transforming the system

We also have to plan for the future.

We must think about things like where our energy will come from and how we will operate a greener and cleaner system in the future.

We want to be able to run a zero carbon electricity system by 2025, which will be crucial in helping the UK meet its wider zero carbon target.

Our story

It’s easy to take electricity for granted, but the British electricity system is one of the most complex in the world.

It certainly qualifies as one of the oldest.

Electricity first arrived in Great Britain in the 1880s when the first public street lights were switched on.

National Grid ESO- Control Room - motherboard historic photo

In 1928 the first pylon of what would become the national grid was erected.

Nearly a century later, while much of the network that grew from that pylon still remains, it has grown massively and is now far more complex. 

Today, National Grid PLC has a unique position at the heart of our energy system, connecting people to the energy they use. 

In April 2019 the electricity system operator part of the business, National Grid ESO, became a legally separate business within the National Grid PLC family.

This was to give you transparency in our decision-making and so you can be confident that everything we do promotes competition.

Our journey continues today as we work tirelessly to operate a safe, reliable and affordable electricity system, all whilst supporting the transition to a greener, and more efficient system for future generations.

Our purpose

Great Britain is transitioning to a low-carbon future. Its energy system needs to do the same.

Years ago, our energy was generated by a small number of very large power stations that ran on fossil fuels.

Today, there are lots of new and cleaner sources of generation from huge wind farms in Scotland to solar farms in Skegness.

It’s our job to ensure these generators can connect onto the system and that we can run our system if the market presents us with 100% mix of renewable-generated electricity.

We need to do this whilst delivering safe, reliable and affordable electricity for everyone.

In a nutshell we:

  • Ensure reliable, secure system operation to deliver electricity when customers need it
  • Transform participation in smart and sustainable markets
  • Unlock consumer value through competition
  • Drive towards a sustainable, whole energy future
Three National Grid employees looking at paperwork with an office setting in the background

How Great Britain's transmission system works

The physical infrastructure, like the pylons and cables, needed to move electricity around is built and maintained by National Grid Electricity Transmission.

They own the whole high-voltage transmission network in England and Wales.

At National Grid ESO, it’s our job to move high-voltage electricity around the grid and pass it to local distribution network operators who then reduce the voltage and distribute electricity to homes and businesses around the country.

We don’t generate or sell electricity – that’s down to other companies. 

Electricity generators, transmission and distribution networks, the electricity system operator and energy suppliers all have a part to play. 

We work hand-in-hand to bring safe, reliable and affordable electricity to homes and businesses across Great Britain 24/7, 365 days a year.