When we are watching the morning news, or catching up with friends on Facebook, how often do we actually give a thought to where the electricity we are using comes from? We see the power lines in our skylines, yet have you thought about where they start or end?
The journey begins, as we all know, as either a fossil fuel or a more eco-friendly source such as solar panels, wind turbines or perhaps even tidal generators which use our waves to create electricity. Fossil fuels are burnt to release heat and energy, which turns humongous turbines that spin and create a spark to make the electricity. The same applies to wind turbines, which use the power of the wind to turn the (much smaller) turbines which creates electricity for our morning cup of tea and everything else!
Power stations are how we all get electricity. These power stations generate electricity through our meters at home, which is then read by gas companies and then subsequently charged by the amount used. There are 2000 gas power stations across the UK powered by gas, fuel and nuclear energy. This gas is used in many appliances from boilers, to gas cookers, to heating for buildings and businesses. Electricity comes from a mixture of gas, coal, nuclear, and renewables. Therefore power stations allow the gas and electricity they produce to generate the homes of the area in which it is situated.
But how do solar panels work? It is best to remember that electricity is a large concentration of energy – the solar panels absorb the energy from the sun and through great technology we can translate that into energy we can use every day.
And how do we turn water into electricity? By forcing a lot of water through a small pipe at a fast speed, this can push rather big turbines round to create the electricity we love. Water turbines are often used for a power surge. The best way to describe this situation would be that when you are watching your Wednesday episode of Coronation Street and the advert break comes on, a lot of different homes suddenly pop on the kettle to make a quick brew. This power needs to come from somewhere so there are power plants dedicated to supplying electricity for a timely power surge.
A particular power plant exists inside a very large hill with a lake on the top and a lake at the bottom; during a power surge the station will release the water inside the top lake and throw it down the pipes leading to the lower lake. This creates a big surge in extra power. With all the power left over after the cup of tea’s are safely made is used to pump the water back to the top.
This hard earned power is then transported through power lines that we recognise over our skylines. They shoot into the ground and then into our homes.
Depending on your home there are many different ways the power can get from the power line to your television. The old way would be to go through hundreds of wires which can be very messy and bad for the planet. Another way is a new system called a ‘Trunking System’ which is pre-fabricated to avoid any waste – you can view here for more details on how you can use this system in your home or business.
So next time you are sat watching your favourite DVD’s or making a skinny latte, spare a thought to the hard work and effort that goes into creating the electricity that powers our world.