How Does Energy Get to You?

Today, I decided to take a long walk home from a coffee shop that I had visited with a couple of my old friends. After loading up on a good deal of carbs, I thought that it might be a good idea to ditch the cab and put my feet to use. But halfway through the journey in the sweltering heat, all that I could think of was how I would grab myself a bottle of cold water from the refrigerator and lie down within the air-conditioned walls of my room.

After all, I had walked a long way, right? But, are you aware of the long journey that electricity undertakes before it fires up your air conditioning? I bet all of you are aware of the concept of power plant – places where electricity is generated.

However, there are a lot of ways in which this power can be produced. Such plants are majorly classified depending upon the sources they use to generate electricity – renewable sources such as air, wind and hydro-power that are abundant in nature and can be easily replenished.

Non-renewable sources, on the other hand, include fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas which are exhaustible in nature. It is important to mention here that in addition to being inexhaustible, the renewable sources are pollution-free and hence, environment friendly.

Now, the route for electricity from the power plant to the confines of your home involves passing through a series of transformers that can increase or decrease the voltage of the current depending upon need. The process is called ‘stepping up/down’.

For example, the power generated at the power plant was first stepped up to raise its voltage in order to enable it to travel great distances through transmission towers that can be spotted along the freeways. When the power reached my city, the transformer substations stepped down that high voltage so that it could travel through the medium voltage circuits.

This energy was circulated through my neighbourhood via elevated power lines and underground cables. Before this electric power reached my home, it was stepped down yet again in the transformation system to meet the voltage regulations of various household appliances, such as my refrigerator!

As a result, the electricity that was produced at the power plant passed through a series of step ups/downs before it reached my home. This complex system of electricity substations, transformers, and power lines that connect electricity producers and consumers, is generally called the grid. Most local grids are interconnected, as it helps improve reliability and coordination.

The next time you switch your room’s light on, you would know just where you are getting that energy from!