Electrification is the process of powering by electricity and, in many contexts, the introduction of such power by changing over from an earlier power source.
The broad meaning of the term, such as in the history of technology, economic history, and economic development, usually applies to a region or national economy. Broadly speaking, electrification was the build-out of the electricity generation and electric power distribution systems that occurred in Britain, the United States, and other now-developed countries from the mid-1880s until around 1950 and is still in progress in rural areas in some developing countries. This included the transition in manufacturing from line shaft and belt drive using steam engines and water power to electric motors.
The electrification of particular sectors of the economy is called by terms such as factory electrification, household electrification, rural electrification or railway electrification. It may also apply to changing industrial processes such as smelting, melting, separating or refining from coal or coke heating, or chemical processes to some type of electric process such as electric arc furnace, electric induction or resistance heating, or electrolysis or electrolytic separating.
Electrification was called "the greatest engineering achievement of the 20th Century" by the National Academy of Engineering.