We all depend on electricity in our daily lives to keep going, whether it’s turning on our computers for work, watching television, grabbing a sandwich from the refrigerator, using an ATM, or charging our cell phones. It all seems very simple and easy. But have we ever thought about what makes up electricity and where does it come from? This post will give discuss how Electricity reaches our homes, various places/ phases/ networks it takes and the challenges faced by Power Grid Stations in delivering it to us.
How Electricity Reaches Our Homes?
The Electricity reaches our homes by passing through following places/ phases/ networks:
- Power Grid Station
- Transmitting Substation
- Transmission Network
- Receiver Substation
- Distribution Network
- Consumer (Home/ Office)
1. Power Grid Station
It starts life in a grid station, which is a huge plant located mostly near energy producing sources such as hydroelectricity dams, wind or solar farms and natural gas plants. Power plants use fuel as sources of energy from wind, coal, sun or even nuclear energy.
This energy is then converted into electricity using equipment including boiler, furnace, turbine, cooling tower and generators. This electricity is then converted into high voltage and transferred to large substations with the help of overhead lines. This voltage can be as high as 25000 Volts or more.
Substations are an important part of the electricity transmission. Usually located near power grid stations, they increase the voltage even further, thus allowing it to be transmitted to longer distances while retaining power. This is done with the help of Step Up transformers which can increase the voltage.
When electricity passes through the first substation transformer, it next goes to transmission network.
3. Transmission Network
A transmission network helps move electricity from power substations to a distribution network. It facilitates delivery of electricity to end users such as houses, offices and commercial areas. The voltage is still very high at this stage because electricity has to cover long distances before it reaches the end user.
Transmission network is made of overhead lines on metal pylon, or, lines buried underground. These lines are insulated to keep them safe from giving electric shock in case they come in contact with a human, since they carry ultra-high voltages.
4. Receiver Substation
Again, with the help of Step Down Transformer, electricity voltage is reduced to a safe and standard level. Voltage decrease is required during distribution to make it safe and less powerful before electricity enters households. At this stage, electricity leaves the transmission network and reaches the distribution network.
Depending upon the location and usage, substation type and voltage can differ. For instance, industrial areas may require the voltage to be reduced to around 33,000 volts whereas urban areas with small factories may require voltage between 11,000 to 33,000 volts. Transformers distributing electricity to houses and buildings on the other hand will deliver voltage as low as 230 volts.
5. Distribution Network
From substation transformer, the electricity enters the distribution network lines to reach its final destination. These power lines could be underground or overhead in different areas. Once it reaches a neighborhood, it passes through another small street transformer to further reduce the voltage – thus ensuring its safety of use.
6. Consumer (Home/ Office)
As a last step, it passes through service drop and your meter records the electricity used by you. It gets divided into circuits for all areas of the house/ offices at the switchboard, and finally transmits through the wires inside your walls to power switches. Here is where you conveniently operate all your electrical appliances and lights.
Challenges faced by Power Grid Stations
The major challenges faced by Power Grid Stations are as follows:
- The power grids are important for energy generation to ensure a safe balance of supply and demand of electricity. But in locations where transmission and distribution networks have already served their useful life, they need to be renewed or replaced. This requirement is important to maintain the reliability and continuity of electrical system and also to create link with renewable energy sources as they become increasingly popular.
- Setting up of New Transmission lines for expansion of network.
- Security from Cyber and Physical assaults.
- Uncertainty in State laws about paying costs.
- Finding a profitable approach between costs involved and consumer rate estimation.
- Continuity of Fuel resources.