Electricity Grid and How It Works

May 28, 2018

An electricity grid is exactly that, a network that's made of electrical transmission lines. The interconnected cables begin at a power station as a high voltage electrical load. Transmitted in a powerful stream of alternating current, this cycling charge arrives at a transformer. Mutual inductance is the principle that now "steps up" the voltage, at which point the power zips onto the electricity grid.

What is The Electricity Grid?

Turbines and transformers aside, let's clear the power generation stage and make a beeline for the transmission cables. The network of high voltage lines is marching across land on steel pylons. This is nationally scaled power distribution, but it's not as if these massive loops of cable can enter a home. To expedite matters, the cables need more processing. They're heading towards a power substation. It is inside this sealed off parcel of land that the voltage is dropped by a "step-down" transformer.

Stepping Down Network Power

High-voltage lines carry thousands of kilovolts. A 132,000 or 275,000 Volt line capacity isn't unusual here, so the pylons keep the cables far from the ground. Arriving at the city substation, the transformer steps down the power and sends it underground. This time, though, the cables are armoured and designed to deflect casual impacts.

Pulling back from this network, the whole system can be seen travelling thousands of kilometres across land. Then, when they arrive at those power distribution nodes, the stepped down voltage is passed through oil-submerged switches and high-capacity breakers. The network power is now properly treated and reduced, which means it’s ready to enter the homes and businesses in the area.

Duties for Electrical Engineers

Linesmen work on overhead electrical grid linkages. As the power passes through switching gear, the lower voltage lines fall under the jurisdiction of an electrical contractor. A competent person has access to the substation, although we're now looking at a building that supplies a few streets or a large business, not one that feeds the entire city. This is the end-line section, the switchgear that supplies and protects the home. From here, trenches thread their way through streets and backyards, and it's the trenching service that lays those cables, connects them to the power distributing switches, and safely terminates those linkages at a fuseboard.

The electricity grid is a vast network. It's also a branching group of linkages that increase the power transmission voltage, reduce that voltage, and safely direct lower voltages into regional substations. Power generation, overhead transmission, and underground distribution, the electrical network relies on thousands of kilometres of cables, plus many power manipulating transformers.

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