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Generation And Transmission Of Electricity

- Electricity generation is the process of generating electrical power from other sources
of primary energy. - The fundamental principles of electricity generation were discovered during the 1820s and early 1830s by the British scientist Michael Faraday. His basic method is still used today. electricity is generated by the movement of a loop of wire, or disc of copper between the poles of a magnet. - For electric utilities, it is the first process in the delivery of electricity to consumers. The other processes, electricity transmission, distribution, and electrical power storage and recovery using pumped-storage methods are normally carried out by the electric power industry. - Electricity is most often generated at a power station by electromechanical generators, primarily driven by heat engines fueled by chemical combustion or nuclear fission but also by other means such as the kinetic energy of flowing water and wind. Other energy sources include solar photovoltaics and geothermal power.

- Electric-power transmission is the bulk transfer of electrical energy, from

generating power plants to electrical substations located near demand centers. This is distinct from the local wiring between high-voltage substations and customers, which is typically referred to as electric power distribution. - Transmission lines, when interconnected with each other, become transmission networks. In the US, these are typically referred to as "power grids" or just "the grid." In the UK, the network is known as the "National Grid". North America has three major grids, the Western Interconnection, the Eastern Interconnection and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) grid, often referred to as the Western System, the Eastern System and the Texas System. - Historically, transmission and distribution lines were owned by the same company, but starting in the 1990s, many countries have liberalized the regulation of the electricity market in ways that have led to [1] the separation of the electricity transmission business from the distribution business.

The quantity work has to do with a force causing a displacement. Work has nothing to do with the amount of time that this force acts to cause the displacement. Sometimes, the work is done very quickly and other times the work is done rather slowly. For example, a rock climber takes an abnormally long time to elevate her body up a few meters along the side of a cliff. On the other hand, a trail hiker (who selects the easier path up the mountain) might elevate her body a few meters in a short amount of time. The two people might do the same amount of work, yet the hiker does the work in considerably less time than the rock climber. The quantity that has to do with the rate at which a certain amount of work is done is known as the power. The hiker has a greater power rating than the rock climber. Power is the rate at which work is done. It is the work/time ratio. Mathematically, it is computed using the following equation.

The standard metric unit of power is the Watt. As is implied by the equation for power, a unit of power is equivalent to a unit of work divided by a unit of time. Thus, a Watt is equivalent to a Joule/second. For historical reasons, the horsepower is occasionally used to describe the power delivered by a machine. One horsepower is equivalent to approximately 750 Watts.

Most machines are designed and built to do work on objects. All machines are typically described by a power rating. The power rating indicates the rate at which that machine can do work upon other objects. Thus, the power of a machine is the work/time ratio for that particular machine. A car engine is an example of a machine that is given a power rating. The power rating relates to how rapidly the car can accelerate the car. Suppose that a 40horsepower engine could accelerate the car from 0 mi/hr to 60 mi/hr in 16 seconds. If this were the case, then a car with four times the horsepower could do the same amount of work in one-fourth the time. That is, a 160-horsepower engine could accelerate the same car from 0 mi/hr to 60 mi/hr in 4 seconds. The point is that for the same amount of work, power and time are inversely proportional. The power equation suggests that a more powerful engine can do the same amount of work in less time. A person is also a machine that has a power rating. Some people are more power-full than others. That is, some people are capable of doing the same amount of work in less time or more work in the same amount of time. A common physics lab involves quickly climbing a flight of stairs and using mass, height and time information to determine a student's personal power. Despite the diagonal motion along the staircase, it is often assumed that the horizontal motion is constant and all the force from the steps is used to elevate the student upward at a constant speed. Thus, the weight of the student is equal to the force that does the work on the student and the height of the staircase is the upward displacement. Suppose that Ben

Pumpiniron elevates his 80-kg body up the 2.0-meter stairwell in 1.8 seconds. If this were the case, then we could calculate Ben's power rating. It can be assumed that Ben must apply an 800-Newton downward force upon the stairs to elevate his body. By so doing, the stairs would push upward on Ben's body with just enough force to lift his body up the stairs. It can also be assumed that the angle between the force of the stairs on Ben and Ben's displacement is 0 degrees. With these two approximations, Ben's power rating could be determined as shown below.

Ben's power rating is 871 Watts. He is quite a horse.

The expression for power is work/time. And since the expression for work is force*displacement, the expression for power can be rewritten as (force*displacement)/time. Since the expression for velocity is displacement/time, the expression for power can be rewritten once more as force*velocity. This is shown below.

This new equation for power reveals that a powerful machine is both strong (big force) and fast (big velocity). A powerful car engine is strong and fast. A powerful piece of farm equipment is strong and fast. A powerful weightlifter is strong and fast. A powerful lineman on a football team is strong and fast. A machine that is strong enough to apply a big force to cause a displacement in a small mount of time (i.e., a big velocity) is a powerful machine.

1. Two physics students, Will N. Andable and Ben Pumpiniron, are in the weightlifting room. Will lifts the 100-pound barbell over his head 10 times in one minute; Ben lifts the 100pound barbell over his head 10 times in 10 seconds. Which student does the most work? ______________ Which student delivers the most power? ______________ Explain your answers. Answer = Ben and Will do the same amount of work. They apply the same force to lift the same barbell the same distance above their heads. Yet, Ben is the most "power-full" since he does the same work in less time. Power and time are inversely proportional. 2. During a physics lab, Jack and Jill ran up a hill. Jack is twice as massive as Jill; yet Jill ascends the same distance in half the time. Who did the most work? ______________ Who delivered the most power? ______________ Explain your answers. Answer = Jack does more work than Jill. Jack must apply twice the force to lift his twice-asmassive body up the same flight of stairs. Yet, Jill is just as "power-full" as Jack. Jill does one-half the work yet does it one-half the time. The reduction in work done is compensated for by the reduction in time 3. A tired squirrel (mass of approximately 1 kg) does push-ups by applying a force to elevate its center-of-mass by 5 cm in order to do a mere 0.50 Joule of work. If the tired squirrel does all this work in 2 seconds, then determine its power. Answer = The tired squirrel does 0.50 Joule of work in 2.0 seconds. The power rating of this squirrel is found by P = W / t = (0.50 J) / (2.0 s) = 0.25 Watts 4. When doing a chin-up, a physics student lifts her 42.0-kg body a distance of 0.25 meters in 2 seconds. What is the power delivered by the student's biceps? Answer = To raise her body upward at a constant speed, the student must apply a force which is equal to her weight (mg). The work done to lift her body is W = F * d = (411.6 N) * (0.250 m) W = 102.9 J The power is the work/time ratio which is (102.9 J) / (2 seconds) = 51.5 Watts (rounded)

The Cost of Using Electricity

The 'unit' The amount of electrical energy transferred to an appliance depends on its power
and the length of time it is switched on. The amount of mains electrical energy transferred is measured - not in joules as one normally does in the physics world - but in in kilowatthours, kWh. Electricity is charged in units. One unit is equivalent to one kilowatt-hour. The equation below shows the relationship between energy transferred, power and time: energy transferred = power time (kilowatt-hour, kWh) (kilowatt, kW) (hour,h) Note that power is measured in kilowatts here instead of the more usual watts. To convert from W to kW you must divide by 1000. For example, 2000W = 2000 1000 = 2kW. Also note that time is measured in hours here, instead of the more usual seconds. To convert from seconds to hours you must divide by 3600. For example, 1800s = 1800 3600 = 0.5 hours.

The cost Electricity meters measure the number of units of electricity used in a home or
other building. The more units used, the greater the cost. The cost of the electricity used is calculated using this equation: total cost = number of units x cost per Unit Example 1 If 5 units of electricity are used at a cost of 8p per unit what will be the total cost? The total cost will be 5 8 = 40p. Example 2 An electric fire needs 2 kW. It is switched on for 3 hours. If each kWh costs 10p, how much does it cost to run the fire? cost = power time cost of 1 kWh = 2 kW 3 h 10p = 60p Example 3 A TV needs 250 W. It is switched on for 30 minutes. If each kWh costs 8p, how much does it cost to run the TV? cost = power time cost of 1 kWh = 0.250 W 0.5 h 8p = 1p

Voltage and Current

Voltage is the Cause, Current is the Effect Voltage attempts to make a current flow, and current will flow if the circuit is complete. Voltage is sometimes described as the 'push' or 'force' of the electricity, it isn't really a force but this may help you to imagine what is happening. It is possible to have voltage without current, but current cannot flow without voltage.

Voltage and Current The switch is closed making a complete circuit so current can flow.

Voltage but No Current The switch is open so the circuit is broken and current cannot flow.

No Voltage and No Current Without the cell there is no source of voltage so current cannot flow.

Voltage, V

Voltage is a measure of the energy carried by the charge. Strictly: voltage is the "energy per unit charge". The proper name for voltage is potential difference or p.d. for short, but this term is rarely used in electronics. Voltage is supplied by the battery (or power supply). Connecting a voltmeter in parallel Voltage is used up in components, but not in wires. We say voltage across a component. Voltage is measured in volts, V. Voltage is measured with a voltmeter, connected in parallel. The symbol V is used for voltage in equations.

Voltage at a point and 0V (zero volts) Voltage is a difference between two points, but in electronics we often refer to voltage at a point meaning the voltage difference between that point and a reference point of 0V (zero volts).

Zero volts could be any point in the circuit, but to be consistent it is normally the negative terminal of the battery or power supply. You will often see circuit diagrams labelled with 0V as a reminder. You may find it helpful to think of voltage like height in geography. The reference point of zero height is the mean (average) sea level and all heights are measured from that point. The zero volts in an electronic circuit is like the mean sea level in geography.

Zero volts for circuits with a dual supply Some circuits require a dual supply with three supply connections as shown in the diagram. For these circuits the zero volts reference point is the middle terminal between the two parts of the supply. On complex circuit diagrams using a dual supply the earth symbol is often used to indicate a connection to 0V, this helps to reduce the number of wires drawn on the diagram. The diagram shows a 9V dual supply, the positive terminal is +9V, the negative terminal is -9V and the middle terminal is 0V.

Current, I

Current is the rate of flow of charge. Current is not used up, what flows into a component must flow out. We say current through a component. Current is measured in amps (amperes), A. Current is measured with an ammeter, connected in series. To connect in series you must break the circuit and put the ammeter acoss the gap, as shown in the diagram. The symbol I is used for current in equations. Why is the letter I used for current? ... please see FAQ.

1A (1 amp) is quite a large current for electronics, so mA (milliamps) are often used. m (milli) means "thousandth": 1mA = 0.001A, or 1000mA = 1A The need to break the circuit to connect in series means that ammeters are difficult to use on soldered circuits. Most testing in electronics is done with voltmeters which can be easily connected without disturbing circuits.

Voltage and Current for components in Series

Voltages add up for components connected in series. Currents are the same through all components connected in series. In this circuit the 4V across the resistor and the 2V across the LED add up to the battery voltage: 2V + 4V = 6V. The current through all parts (battery, resistor and LED) is 20mA.

Voltage and Current for components in Parallel

Voltages are the same across all components connected in parallel. Currents add up for components connected in parallel. In this circuit the battery, resistor and lamp all have 6V across them. The 30mA current through the resistor and the 60mA current through the lamp add up to the 90mA current through the battery.

Energy Sources
Electricity generation involves the transfer of energy from one form to another. The energy sources used in the generation of energy can be classified as two types. 1. Non renewable energy source 2. Renewable energy source

Non renewable energy sources

Non renewable energy is the name given to energy sources which once used cannot be replaced. Examples of non renewable energy resources are fossil fuels and nuclear fuels. Fossil Fuels Fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas get there name because they are formed from the fossilized remains of dead plants and animals. The generally accepted theory is that fossil fuels were formed many millions of years ago by geological processes acting on dead animals and plants (exposure to heat and pressure from the Earths crust). These fuels take many millions of years to form and are currently being depleted (used up) much faster than new ones are being formed. Nuclear Fuels These are radioactive elements which undergo nuclear reactions (fission) in nuclear reactors generating nuclear energy which in turn is used to generate electricity. Nuclear fuels such as Uranium or Plutonium are mined from the Earths crust. These are of limited supply and cannot be replaced therefore once used are gone forever.

The table below is a summary of non renewable energy resources.

Petroleum (Oil)

Source Petroleum is a fossil fuel formed by heat and pressure from the Earths crust acting on the fossilised remains of dead animals and plants. Petroleum reserves exist in the Earths crust sandwiched between layers of impermeable rocks and porous rocks. The petroleum is extracted from these reservoirs drilling oil wells and sinking pipes into the reservoirs to pump the petroleum out.

Advantages Easily converted to energy. Relatively easy to extract. Can be easily transported (pipelines, super-tankers)

Disadvantages Products of combustion (the gases given off when burnt) are atmospheric pollutants and greenhouse gases. Accidents during transport, extraction and refining cause major environmental pollution.

Natural Gas

Source Natural gas is a fossil fuel. Its formation is similar to that for petroleum; however the conversion of the fossilized remains of the dead plants

Advantages Relatively easy to extract. Requires little processing (is extracted in a ready to

Disadvantages Produces greenhouse gases and atmospheric pollutants when burnt.

and animals to gas occurs at deeper depths in the Earths crust where the pressure and heat is greater. Natural gas is extracted in a similar way to petroleum by drilling holes and sinking pipes into the gas reservoirs, the gas travels to its surface under its own pressure.

use form) Is the cleanest of the fossil fuels.


Source Coal is a fossil fuel. Coal is formed from the fossilized remains of plants that once grew on the earth. The action of the pressure and heat of the Earths crust over millions of years converts the fossilised remains of these plants into coal. Coal is mined from coal seams in the Earths crust. Where the coal is near the surface of the Earth, open cast mining is used but in areas where the seam is deep underground mining is used to extract the coal.

Advantages Of all the fossil fuels coal has the largest reserves. It is relatively easy and inexpensive to extract.

Disadvantages Open cast mining damages the landscape and ecosystems. The burning of coal produces gases that are atmospheric pollutant and greenhouse gases. Due to the large amount of greenhouse gases coal produces power station require expensive pollution control measures.


Source The most common form of nuclear fuel is Uranium. Uranium is a common metal found in rocks all over the world. However, the particular form of Uranium best suited as a nuclear fuel is Uranium 235 and this is very rare. Uranium 235 is extracted via mining and then processed to make it usable as a fuel.

Advantages Small amounts of fuel produce a large amount of energy. Does not produce atmospheric pollutants and greenhouse gases. Produces small amounts of waste.

Disadvantages Although small amounts of waste are produced, the waste is very dangerous. The waste needs to be disposed of carefully and responsibly. The risk of a nuclear accident can have catastrophic consequences as was the case of Chernobyl.

Renewable energy sources

These are energy sources that are unlimited (will never run out) and once used are rapidly replenished (continuously replaced). Examples of renewable energy sources are wind, water, geothermal and solar. The table below is a summary of non renewable energy resources.


Source This is energy from sunlight. Sunlight can be captured by solar panels and its energy transferred to electricity. Energy from the sun can also be focussed onto pipes carrying water transferring heat energy.

Advantages Free unlimited source of energy No waste or greenhouse gases produced.

Disadvantages Source not available at night. Can be an unreliable source of energy unless in a country with a hot climate.





Wind is created by the action of warm air rising and cold air blowing to fill the void created. Hence, the source is the sun as it is its energy that warms the air.

Wind is free. No waste or greenhouse gases produced.

Unpredictable source of energy. Wind farms can be unsightly and cause noise pollution.


Source The pulling effect of the moon on the earth causes the oceans and seas to rise and fall. The movement of the rise and fall of the oceans and seas can be used to drive turbines.

Advantages A free source of energy. No waste or greenhouse gases produced. Tides are predictable.

Disadvantages Tidal barrages can affect the natural habitat of wildlife and impact the environment. Can only supply energy when the tide is moving in or out.


Source Water stored in a large volume in a reservoir behind a dam. The potential energy of the water can be transferred to kinetic energy in the turbines.

Advantages Once the dam is built the energy is free. No waste or greenhouse gases produced. Very reliable source of energy.

Disadvantages Dams are very expensive to build. Dams cause flooding which seriously impact the environment and local habitats.


Source Waves are produced by the action of the wind on the seas and oceans.

Advantages A free source of energy. No waste or greenhouse gases produced.

Disadvantages Dependant on the strength of the waves. Needs to be capable of withstanding rough weather. Sites are limited to only areas where the waves are consistently strong.


Source Heat from under the earth in volcanic regions is used to heat water to produce steam for running turbines for generating electricity. In some cases it is used to heat water for heating.

Advantages No fuel needed Does no contribute to greenhouse gases

Disadvantages Limited sites available. Hazardous gases can be released from geothermal sites which require safe disposal.





This is fuel obtained from decaying plant and animal material. Wood is one source as it can be burnt to provide heat energy. Sugar cane can be fermented to produce alcohol which can be used as a fuel.

Is a renewable source Produces greenhouse gases. as long as plant and trees are replaced. Cheap and easily available source of fuel.

An Alternating Current

There are two main types of current in our world. One is direct current (DC), which is a constant stream of electrons in one direction. The other is alternating current, which is a stream of charges that reverses direction. Scientists such asCharles Proteus Steinmetz and Nikola Teslamade great advances when AC power was just a science experiment.

Flowing Back and Forth

Charges (electrons) must always be flowing to have a current. However, the flow of charges does not always have to be in one direction. Inalternating current, the charges move in one direction for a very short time, and then they reverse direction. This happens over and over again. Scientists describe the cycle of switching directions as the frequency. Frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz). Currents that cycle more often during a specific amount of time are said to have a higher frequency. AC power cycles 60 times per second in the US. Since the web is a global resource, we should also mention that there are different alternating current frequencies across the world. While we all use alternating current, the switching happens different amounts during a specific time period. Most countries use AC frequencies at either 50 hertz or 60 hertz.

Cheaper and Stronger

Why do we use AC power all over the world? It's cheaper and easier to make devices for AC power. It is less expensive because you can increase and decrease the current for AC power very easily. The power switches for AC power are also less expensive to manufacture. Probably the biggest advantage of AC is that you can use high voltages with small currents to reduce losses when you transmit power. Remember that lost energy increases the more collisions you have, and reducing current decreases the amount of collisions (and reduces heating in the wires). You can

send power with DC, but the DC power transmission loses a lot of energy. You would have to put much more effort into sending DC power over the same distance. Alternating Around You The easiest place to see AC power in action is in your house. All of the appliances and lights in your house probably run off of AC power. There are also power converters that change DC power into AC power when you need electricity and there are no plugs around (like camping).