Our response to coronavirus

Find out how we're working to keep Great Britain’s lights on reliably throughout the outbreak.
A girl holds a lightbulb

What we do

Electricity is the life blood of modern society.

Every day National Grid ESO moves over 730GWh of high-voltage electricity around the country. That’s enough to power 146 billion light bulbs!

We ensure that Great Britain has the essential energy it needs by making sure supply meets demand every second of every day.

We move electricity through the system

National Grid ESO moves high voltage electricity from where it’s generated, such as a wind farm, through the energy system. 

Using the infrastructure owned by the 3 transmission companies - National Grid Electricity Transmission, Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission Ltd. and SP Energy Networks, this high voltage electricity is passed onto one of the nine Distribution Network Operators across the country.

They own the local networks and convert it into a more manageable voltage that's suited for domestic use. Your local distribution network operator then feeds low voltage electricity through to your home or business property.

But who else is part of the British electricity system?

National Grid ESO - what we do - infographic
National Grid ESO - what we do - light bulbs on a string

Energy consumers

After its journey from the generation stations though the grid, the DNOs and into the ownership of energy suppliers, it’s ready for use across businesses and homes.

National Grid ESO - Battersea power station

We manage the changing patterns of electricity demand and supply

Previously, large coal, gas and nuclear power plants were the main source of electricity, dominating Great Britain’s electricity generation market.

Electricity flowed from generation plants through the transmission network, to the distribution network and on to wherever it was needed.

The coal and gas plants were easily controllable and could be turned up or down in response to how much electricity was needed across the whole of Great Britain.

However, new forms of generation such as wind and solar are replacing these traditional plants.

Today, the flow of electricity is getting more complex. This is because:

1. More renewable energy

We have a large and growing proportion of our electricity from renewables, and the amount of electricity generated varies depending on the weather.

2. A growing number of ways we can source electricity

Whereas before, we had a handful of mostly large transmission connected electricity generators, now there are 1000’s of decentralised generators (generation that is not connected to the transmission network, but rather on the distribution network or on site) as well, which is changing the pattern of electricity flows.

3. More ‘interconnectors’

Huge cables which allow us to trade electricity with other countries, are being built.

4. More participation in 'demand side response'

Large energy users, such as manufacturing plants, are incentivised to adjust how much electricity they use during peak times.

National Grid ESO - what we do - people in meeting transforming the grid

We're transforming the system

So, the flow of electricity is getting more complex, but at National Grid ESO we are continuously developing the system to ensure we can meet the nation’s needs.

Working hand in hand with the energy industry, we’re continually finding ways to innovate, invest and adapt the electricity system to keep electricity flowing reliably to homes and businesses across Great Britain.