The voice of the networks

What are the energy networks?

The UK and Ireland's energy system is made up of different parts, such as generators, networks and suppliers. Your electricity and gas is sold to you by your supplier. It’s carried along wires and pipes – the energy networks – to power and heat your homes or businesses across the UK and Ireland.

Ofgem – the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets – is the government regulator that oversees the energy system in Great Britain. In Northern Ireland, it's the Utility Regulator and in Ireland it's ​The Commission for Regulation of Utilities.

Illustration of networks below cityscape Cityscape illustration

300,000km
of gas pipes

The gas network in the UK and Ireland comprises around 300,000km of pipes – enough to go around the world seven times

1,000,000km
of electricity cables

The electricity network in the UK and Ireland comprises around 1,000,000km of cables – enough to go around the world 25 times

What do we do?

Energy network operators own and operate the wires and pipes that carry electricity and gas to our homes and businesses, hospitals and infrastructure.

Transmission networks carry high-voltage electricity and high-pressure gas across the length and breadth of the country. Substations (for electricity) and pressure reducing stations (for gas) convert the energy so that it can be carried along local distribution networks. These local distribution networks run at lower voltages and pressures, delivering electricity and gas safely into homes and businesses across the UK.

30 million

Around 30 million homes and businesses are connected to the electricity networks

22 million

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

23%

The energy networks account for under a quarter of the average annual UK energy bill1

Tackling climate change

The energy networks are helping turn the tide on climate change. More renewable electricity and gas than ever is being produced and used across the UK and Ireland.2

The ways in which we travel, and heat and power our homes and businesses, are changing as new technologies, such as electric vehicles, become more popular. The energy networks are changing too – investing, innovating and helping to make all of this possible. We’re creating the world’s first zero carbon gas grid and using data and technology to create a smart grid that will enable more renewable energy to be generated.

Find out how we’re creating tomorrow’s networks

The drive to
renewable energy

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.

+402%

Since 2015, the number of public charging points has grown by 402%3

A greener world

In order to hit our climate targets in the most efficient and least disruptive way, we will need to reduce the emissions of our gas networks.

Our Gas Goes Green programme is showing how we can change the country’s extensive gas network and create the world’s first zero carbon gas grid. We will be using hydrogen and other low-carbon gases to heat our homes, and play a vital role in heavy goods vehicles, trains and planes.

85%

Around 85% of homes in Great Britain are connected to the gas network4

£89bn

Moving to a zero-carbon gas grid will help save bill-payers £89bn by 20505

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 project 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 technologies6

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 will be 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.

45,000

Around 45,000 people work in the UK and Ireland's electricity and gas networks

1,200

Our apprenticeship programmes support more than 1,200 people across the UK

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.

240,000 tonnes

The new hydrogen-ready gas mains could save 240,000 tonnes of carbon a year8

850,000 tonnes

The carbon intensity of the electricity networks has been cut by the equivalent of 850,000 tonnes of carbon in two years9

We’re here to protect you and your home

The electricity and gas networks in the UK and Ireland are designed to be highly resilient. However, sometimes problems occur that affect your energy supply.

If you smell gas or suspect a gas leak, you should immediately call the National Gas Emergency Service number on 0800 111 999 (In Northern Ireland, it's 0800 002 001 and in the Republic of Ireland, it's 1850 20 50 50).

If you have a power cut, or to report damage to power lines, call 105 for free (In Northern Ireland, it's 03457 643643 and in the Republic of Ireland, it's 1850 372 999).

14%

The number of power cuts has fallen by 14% since 2015, while their length has fallen by 10%10

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.

9/10

Average customer service scores for the energy networks are nine out of ten11

97,000

Around 97,000 fuel-poor customers will be connected to the gas networks between 2013-202112

The key facts

Between 2013 and 2021, the GB network companies are spending and investing around £60bn, making sure that homes and businesses across the country are powered and heated. Customers are at the heart of their approach.

They will continue to focus on providing you with a secure supply of energy while enabling decarbonisation that has seen the UK experience its longest period without burning coal to generate electricity since the Industrial Revolution.

Safer, cleaner energy

The Powering Improvement safety strategy has led to significant advances in staff safety and wellbeing. It is now entering its next five-year phase, while the companies are also innovating and investing in new systems and infrastructure to help protect the environment.

Protecting people and the environment we live in continues to be a priority for the network companies – and the energy networks have never been safer.

10 times

People who work for the electricity networks are more than 10 times safer than they were in 199013

More reliable and innovative than ever

The energy networks have never been more reliable and resilient while the levels of customer support have also never been better.14

Since 2008, GB networks have invested £1.2bn on 1,160 innovation projects. A relentless focus on innovation will help to improve reliability, while keeping costs down for the public.

17%

The cost of transporting a unit of electricity around Britain has fallen by 17% since the mid-1990s15

Superpower in renewable energy

We are redesigning the way our grids work which will help us to connect even more renewable energy projects more quickly than ever, while also providing you with a sector-leading service.

Private investment has helped to make Britain a superpower in renewable energy. We are building on that by enabling new, local energy markets, getting gas green and decarbonising transport. The networks have never been greener.

+25%

Over a quarter of our electricity generation and 100 green gas production sites are now connected to the local energy networks16