Top of main content

What is electrification?

Electrification means replacing technologies that use fossil fuels – such as oil, coal, and natural gas – with technologies that run on electricity.

From our homes and transport to industrial processes, electrification can reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to help tackle climate change.

Here, we look at:

The benefits of electrification

Roughly three-quarters of the UK’s energy comes from fossil fuels, with oil and gas used to generate electricity, run vehicles and heat homes.1 

An alternative to burning fossil fuels for energy, is electricity generated by renewable sources. Some of the benefits include:

Fewer emissions

When recharged from the national grid, fully electric vehicles (EVs), for example, are estimated to have 66% lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to petrol cars, and 60% lower compared to diesel.2

Improved health from reduced air pollution

Clean air is also essential for our health. Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, with long-term exposure causing over 36,000 deaths each year.3

According to the World Health Organisation, the lower the level of air pollution, the better the cardiovascular and respiratory health of the population will be, now and in the future.4

Lower running costs

Choosing an electric car, for example, can help you save money. Driving 200 miles in a petrol or diesel car can cost you 3 or 4 times more than charging an electric car to travel the same distance.2

Some types of EVs are also exempt from vehicle tax. This means you still need to tax the vehicle but it’s free to do so – saving you money.

Examples of electrification

Electric vehicles

Fully electric vehicles (EVs) are powered solely by rechargeable batteries. The sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans are expected to end by 2030 in the UK, followed by hybrid vehicles by 2035, as we move towards the electrification of personal transport.  

Explore: A guide to electric vehicles

Street lamps converted to EV chargers

Technology companies have converted over 1,300 lampposts in London to provide on-street charging points. This gives people without driveways a convenient, low cost, energy-efficient way to charge their EVs.5


In Germany, technology has been created that supplies hybrid lorries with electricity from overhead lines. 

The aim is to electrify key stretches of the German autobahn and significantly reduce CO2 emissions from trucks6. These lorries can re-charge their batteries at any highway speed, to help them maintain a reliable service, while reducing their impact on the environment.

Retrofitting old petrol or diesel cars

Electrical conversion, or retrofitting, involves transforming any type of vehicle with a combustion engine into an EV. From vintage cars to tractors, retrofitting can help future-proof petrol or diesel cars by making them more environmentally friendly.

Low carbon heating systems

In a bid to reduce household greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050, the UK government aims to encourage more people in England and Wales to install low carbon heating, such as heat pumps, through the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS).

Heat pumps take heat from the air. This is then circulated around a central heating and hot water system, using electricity – as a cleaner alternative to gas boilers.