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What are the energy networks?

The energy networks are like a system of roads that transport electricity and gas from where it's made to homes and businesses.

Transmission lines and pipes carry electricity and gas over long distances, and distribution lines bring it to individual places.

Network operators look after these wires and pipes.

Illustration of networks below cityscape Cityscape illustration
Illustration of networks below cityscape Cityscape illustration

187,000 miles
of gas pipes

The gas network comprises around 187,000 miles of pipes.

That's like walking three-fourths of the distance all the way around the planet at the equator.

500,000 miles
of electricity cables

The electricity network comprises around 500,000 miles of wires and cables.

If you had a spaceship that can travel from Earth to the Moon and back and you do that trip about 1,000 times, that's around 500,000 miles!

What are the energy networks?

Our energy system is made up of transmission and distribution networks. These are a series of wires and pipes that take energy from its source to where it's used. In charge of these networks are the energy network operators.

Think of transmission networks as the motorways for electricity and gas. They carry a huge amount of electricity or gas over long distances, just like a super-fast road connecting cities.

Distribution networks are more like the smaller roads in your community. They take electricity and gas from the transmission lines and pipes and bring it to your home, business, or any other place where you use energy. These lines and pipes make sure the electricity and gas gets to where it's needed locally.

In a nutshell, transmission networks cover the long journey from where energy is produced to where it's needed in large quantities, while distribution networks take it the last mile, bringing it right to your doorstep.

29 million

Around 29 million homes are connected to the electricity networks.

22 million

Around 22 million homes and businesses are connected to the gas networks.

20%

Percentage of the average energy bill which goes towards maintaining and upgrading the electricity and gas networks (as of 1 January 2024).

Enabling net zero

We are investing and innovating to support the delivery of net zero. We're connecting more renewable generation, improving and accelerating grid connections, upgrading the network to support electric vehicle charging point and heat pump installation. 

Creating tomorrow’s networks

Driving power

Industries and sectors are becoming increasingly interconnected. Our power, heat, transport, waste and industrial sectors are all interdependent, so the solutions for their decarbonisation must be too.

Digital and technological innovation is helping network operators to manage the national uptake of electric vehicles, connect more offshore wind and renewables, and reduce the emissions of our heating systems.

55,000

At the end of January 2024, there were more than 55,000 EV charging points.

Smarter, faster, more efficient

To help homes and businesses take full advantage of new technologies such as electric vehicles and heat pumps, our Open Networks programme is underpinning the delivery of an even smarter, more efficient grid.

New businesses will open and others will diversify as we build on our world-leading innovation in smart grids, technologies and services. In the future, these businesses could also see their products exported globally.

£8bn

£8bn a year could be saved by networks investing in innovative new technologies.

Improving grid connections

The so-called "queue" of storage and generation projects trying to connect to the electricity grid far exceeds the capacity needed for net zero. This is why it's vital we work with our members, government and Ofgem to improve and accelerate grid connections for our customers.

527GW

The amount of queued generation and storage capacity (transmission and distribution).

275GW

Total amount of additional capacity that's needed for net zero.

Skilled people, great qualities

Investing in smarter systems and greener gas presents opportunities for jobs and growth. Network operators are focused on recruitment which represents their communities and inspires a new generation.

400,000 jobs are needed by 2050 to deliver the UK’s emissions targets. More jobs will be needed within the energy networks, the supply chain and in the new services and industries that emerge.

49,000

Around 49,000 people work in the UK and Ireland's electricity and gas networks. 40,000 in Great Britain and around 9,000 in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

700

The UK energy networks plan to recruit around 700 apprentices during 2024.

Keeping everyone safe

Protecting the environment and ensuring safety are at the heart of network operators’ priorities. That includes both the safety of the public, and the workforce that maintains and operates the networks.

On behalf of the whole energy industry, we run the Powering Improvement health and safety strategy. Working with companies across the sector, unions and HSE, the programme has been instrumental in helping to keep everyone safe.

Keeping you safe

Our energy networks are designed to be highly resilient. However, when problems occur, we're here to help.

Smell gas? Call 0800 111 999

Northern Ireland: 0800 002 001
Republic of Ireland: 1850 20 50 50

Power cut? Call 105 

Northern Ireland: 03457 643643
Republic of Ireland: 1850 372 999

10%

The number of power cuts has fallen by 10% since 2015, while their length has fallen by 7%.

Ready to help

Seven million people have already signed up to the free Priority Services Register. If you need extra help, the free service provides access to additional support in an emergency, as well as accessible information.

As gas is often the cheapest way to heat a home, the gas network companies can help those who are not connected to the gas grid and may be having difficulties paying their bills, by providing funding toward the cost of connecting to their networks.

105

The free number to call in England, Scotland and Wales if you have a power cut.

Delivering for our communities

The networks are spending and investing around £42bn to meet the challenge of delivering energy to communities safely, sustainably and reliably.

Safely

The networks operate the Power Cut? Call 105 and Smell Gas? Call 0800 111 999 emergency numbers, keeping customers safe and informed during energy emergencies.

82,000

The number of emergency calls handled per day by the energy networks during Storm Arwen

Sustainably

We're enabling new energy markets and helping decarbonise heating and transportation, supporting the shift away from natural gas to hydrogen, heat pumps and biogas and connecting electric vehicles.

+25%

More than a quarter of our electricity generation and 100 green gas production sites are connected to the local energy networks.

Reliably

The energy networks have never been more reliable and resilient while the levels of customer support have also never been better.

+1,000

Since 2008, GB networks have invested £1.2bn on more than 1,000 innovation projects. A relentless focus on innovation will help to improve reliability, while keeping costs down for the communities we serve.