What is Electrification? Definition and Examples

There are countless devices and processes that use electricity in the world today. That number continues to grow in a process called electrification. Resources for the Future define electrification as “the process of replacing technologies that use fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) with technologies that use electricity as a source of energy”. Paired with this, electrification is a growing demand for renewable energy. Both of these elements are helping to make a sustainable future realisable.

Examples of Electrification


There are examples of electrification happening all around the world. One of the most obvious is electric vehicles (EVs). For the whole of 2012, manufacturers sold 130,000 EVs worldwide. In under a decade, that number has jumped to 6.6 million. This is what electrification looks like. It’s happening all over the world as cars, buses and trucks switch to electricity.

Building Electrification

But it isn’t only vehicles. Our homes and offices are changing too. Many of them use greenhouse gases to control the temperature. Take heat pumps for example. They use electricity to capture heat during winter and remove it when it’s hot. They offer a dual purpose and minimise the number of devices needed. While they do this, they increase the demand for electricity from our energy system.

Home Appliances and Devices

Within these homes and offices are appliances that now use electricity to run. Devices like stoves and cook tops are switching from gas to electricity. Alongside them are our lights, fridges, computers and phones. Altogether, they make our homes huge consumers of electricity.

Why Electrification is Important

Electrification changes everything about the way we live. It also gives us a chance to decarbonise our economy. This can help us reduce the impact of climate change.  As more systems switch to electricity, we reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. This gives us greater opportunity to find alternative energy sources through renewables.  Both of these changes impact our energy systems. Electrification requires us to produce more electricity, while the switch to renewable energy makes it difficult to distribute that energy. Thankfully, we have solutions to both these issues.

The increase in electric devices means we need a new way to manage energy consumption and distribution. Demand response can help with both of these problems. By changing the energy consumption of all these different systems and devices, demand response helps to keep supply and demand of electricity in balance. Not only does this help with the boom in electrification we’re seeing, it helps the transition towards renewable energy. This makes demand response critical to the shift to a sustainable energy system. 

To learn more about how demand response works, click here.


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