13 times energy rocked our world

11 July 2017 | OVO Energy

Energy isn’t all light bulbs and wind turbines. Just ask anyone who attended, played, or spoke at bluedot festival this summer. As the headline sponsor, it was inspiring to see music, literature, and science all come together – and it reminded us that energy’s always played an important role in the arts. Here are 13 examples that prove it.

It all started with steam engines

Yes, we might frown at dirty old coal these days – but without it Thomas Newcomen and James Watt could never have powered their pioneering steam engines. And the industrial revolution could never have brought us all this:

1. Steam power inspired the UK’s favourite painting

In his 1838 masterpiece The Fighting Temeraire, William Turner shows a steam tugboat towing a ghostly sailing ship to her grave – it’s the greatest artistic metaphor of its time for the future literally pulling the past!  

2. It also brought music to the masses

How does steam affect the music industry? Well, until steam powered transport helped enable the mass production of instruments, playing music was something only the elite could enjoy.

3. **And trains like ‘The Rocket’ fuelled the rise of football, theatre, music halls**

George Stephenson’s 1829 steam train, The Rocket, helped pave the way for mass travel into UK cities which, in turn, led to brand new games, and forms of entertainment being created.

4. Getting your ‘nose in a novel’ became a thing

As 19th century capitalism rose, so did UK literacy. People spent more and more money on books and newspapers that were made available by industrial steam printing presses, like Friedrich Koenig’s; patented in 1810.

5. Photography arrived via Kodak’s box camera

In 1888, long before our ‘selfie generation’, Kodak released the first widely-adopted box camera. This significant step was only made possible by steam-powered industrialisation. Say cheese!

And then the world ‘went electric’

From jet planes to the internet. The discovery of electricity – coupled with oil-powered engines – has heralded whole new ways of communicating, transporting and creating.

6. Scientific geniuses gave us light

Michael Faraday’s 1831 electric dynamo solved the problem of generating ongoing electric current, while Thomas Edison and Joseph Swan shed literal light on progress with the light bulb!

7.  We said ‘hello’ to the telephone

Before Samuel Morse’s telegraphic ‘morse code’ of 1841, people still passed messages via horseback. Fast forward another 30 years and Alexander Graham Bell patents the game-changing telephone.

8. ‘Listening in’ became a cultural phenomenon

The BBC began daily radio transmissions in 1922, but big props must go to Italian Guglielmo Marconi who made it possible with the first historic radio broadcast in 1901: from the Isle of Wight to Cornwall.

9. Television defined our downtime

Before the BBC’s public service in 1932, Scottish inventor John Logie Baird conducted the first television broadcast at London’s Royal Institute in 1926. His ‘TV’ had a touch of the Blue Peters about it, having been made from a washstand, tea chest, and projection lamp.

10. Electric guitars and amps changed the face of music

The new electro sound adopted first in 1931 by jazz musicians, wasn’t welcome with everyone. In 1966, Dylan fans famously branded him a ‘turncoat’ for daring to electrify his folk music.

11. The combustion engine gave us cars **(and art about cars!)**

Since American Henry Ford’s first mass-produced fleet in 1908, cars have inspired huge social change and artistic masterpieces – from road movies (Thelma and Louise), to Beat Generation novels (Kerouac’s ‘On the road’).

12. Air travel makes us globetrotters

After the Wright Brothers invented and flew the world’s first aeroplane in 1905, the sky was literally the limit for aviation. 50 years later, the de Havilland Comet, the first commercial jet aircraft, flies from London to Johannesburg.


Hats off to Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn (‘Fathers of the Internet) and the founder of the World Wide Web, Tim Berner-Lee. Thanks to their efforts we can learn harder, stream free entertainment faster, and connect with loved ones better than ever before.

This year, we made our own contribution to the arts, by sponsoring bluedot festival – an amazing science-meets-music event held at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire. We share their philosophy of exploration and connectedness. Not to mention their desire to push the boundaries of progress – while protecting our dot, and everyone who calls it home.

If you’re on the same wavelength, why not get a quote for our 100% renewable tariff?