The evolution of Britain’s energy industry

In recent years, the energy market has been characterized by uncertainty and volatility. This is due to a range of factors, including increased frequency of extreme weather patterns, and wars in Ukraine and the Middle East that have pushed up the cost of wholesale gas prices and called into question security of supplies.  

However, there have also been long-term trends which look likely to continue well into 2024 and beyond. The most obvious one is the continued dominance of renewable energy. With ambitious targets outlined in the government’s Clean Growth Strategy, the UK is taking steps to achieve its goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.   


Andy Normand
Andy Normand

Renewable output in Britain hit 129.0TWh last year, accounting for almost one half (46 percent)  of Britain’s total annual power mix, according to energy data analyst EnAppSys. The record was driven mainly by a rise in wind generation, which totalled 79.2TWh and accounted for 61 percent of overall renewable output. The proliferation of offshore wind farms has been a major factor in the growth of renewable energy. Technological advancements, cost reductions and government incentives have made it more attractive for developers and the development of large-scale wind farms off the coastlines contributes not only to decarbonization but also to job creation and economic growth in coastal regions. 

While renewables have grown massively and pushed coal-fired power from around 40 percent to one percent of total energy output in the last decade, their variability and lower capability to hold the grid stable has necessitated a greater reliance on gas generation to provide a dependable backbone for the transition. Gas generation has the twin advantages of being both readily dispatchable and with already available, proven and economically viable technology, and will sustain the transition for a number of years until carbon reduction targets bite and it will need to be replaced.  

There are several different technologies that have the potential to grow, including biofuels, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage and Long Duration Energy Storage (LDES) that will find powerful and important niches in providing a reliable grid but are unlikely to challenge the domination of wind as the primary source of electricity.  


Aside from getting capacity onto the grid, another key aspect of the current changes is creating and controlling flexibility to turn energy sources and infrastructure into the stable, reliable network we expect. 

As the share of intermittent renewable energy sources increases, the importance of energy storage solutions has become more pronounced. Advancements in battery technologies have led to the proliferation of energy storage projects, which play a crucial role in stabilizing the grid, enhancing flexibility, and ensuring a reliable power supply. Current levels of 3.5GW are expected to reach 20-to-30GW by 2030. 

The integration of smart grids and digital technologies is also a key component of Britain’s modern-day energy infrastructure. The UK energy sector is leveraging data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to optimize energy distribution, improve grid resilience and enhance overall efficiency. The move towards a more intelligent and interconnected grid is vital to accommodate the intermittency of renewable energy sources and promote energy conservation. 

Building more flexibility into Britain’s energy system will be key going forward. Flexibility markets help electricity networks to monitor energy flows and flag market signals to initiate changes in energy supply and demand. Smart meters, smart appliances and small-scale renewable energy resources can be integrated into the markets at short notice when needed, helping to balance the system when unexpected events (a sudden change in weather or outages on big power stations) threaten its stability.   

Wind turbineDemand 

Demand will continue to rise with the adoption of EVs and heating electrification expected to more than double by 2050.  


Government policies continue to be instrumental in shaping the direction of the domestic energy industry. The UK government has introduced a series of measures to encourage investment in clean energy, promote energy efficiency and support research and development in emerging technologies. The regulatory framework aims to provide a stable environment for businesses, fostering innovation and attracting both domestic and foreign investment. 

However, while the UK energy sector has made remarkable strides, challenges persist. The transition to a low-carbon economy requires substantial investment, and energy prices, supply chain disruptions and geopolitical factors all have an impact on the industry. That said, these challenges also present opportunities for innovative companies that know the market and can generate clean energy at low cost.  

As we reach the point that renewables no longer easily fit into the old ways of doing things, the opportunities for benefiting from the change will be visible across the entire industry from individual users through to grid level requirements. That leads to new opportunities, new technologies, new changes in consumption, new niches. 

The UK energy industry in 2024 stands at the forefront of a green revolution, driven by a commitment to decarbonization and a shift towards renewable energy sources. As the sector continues to evolve, the integration of new technologies, supportive policies and a focus on sustainability will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of energy in our country.  

By Andy Normand  

Andy Normand is Business Development Director at Encora Energy. Encora Energy was created in November 2015 by energy professionals looking to help clients exploit opportunities related to the changing needs of the energy market. Encora provides project development, engineering, consultancy and operations management services to customers, helping them deal with the practicalities of developing, installing, operating and maintaining new energy systems such as renewable and battery storage systems, combined heat and power (CHP) plants, fuel cells, gas engines and gas turbines.