Most of our daily routines involve electricity. From switching the lights on to reheating food. All these activities need an essential energy source. And it takes long travel before electricity reaches our home. So how exactly does it gets delivered?
Australia’s electricity grid
The electricity grid is a connected network for delivering electricity from producers to consumers. It consists of transmission and distribution networks. These networks allow the transportation of electricity across distances to every home.
Based on the National Electricity Market, there are more than 40,000 km transmission lines and cables around the country.
In addition to this, Australia’s electricity grid spans around 4,500 km at eastern and southern states. Other states like WA, NT and Mount Isa in QLD have own networks. It is more efficient with an average of 5% compared to other countries.
The first stage of energy generation takes place in power stations. Power stations are typically located near energy sources such as wind farms, hydroelectric dams, and natural gas plants. Electricity is generated through a furnace, boiler, turbine, cooling towers, and generators.
Electricity generated in a power station makes way to first substations. Substations are often located near power stations. It has an essential role in the electricity transmission process.
At this stage, the voltage of electricity can be at 25,000 volts or higher which can be done using transformers. The importance of increasing the voltage is to avoid losing too much power during the transmission process.
Transmission networks help deliver the electricity to end users such as houses and businesses. It is usually made up of metal pylons which are designed for extreme-high voltages. It is insulated to prevent electric shock when it touches the ground. At this stage, electricity remains at a high voltage.
At the second substation, the voltage of the electricity is reduced using a transformer. It makes electricity safer to use by consumers. It also prepares power to reach the distribution network.
In rural areas, the substation is used to reduce voltage around 33,000 volts while in urban, it ranges around 11,000 to 33,000 volts.
DISTRIBUTION POWER LINES
When the electricity leaves the second substation, it goes to distribution networks. Power lines are used to distribute electricity to its final destination such as households and offices.
These lines and cables are usually overhead or underground. From the second substation, electricity enters a small transformer for final voltage reduction. This is important to ensure electricity is safe to use at home.
Electricity reaches our home and gets divided into circuits and distributes to the entire house. Then, electricity moves through wires to power outlets and switches. Electric and gas meters installed at home record the total electricity usage of a consumer.
Technically, an electricity retailer is not part of the electricity generation process. However, it plays an important role in the energy market. Retailers buy electricity from distributors and resell it to businesses and households. Electricity retailers are responsible for billing. Also, it’s part of their job to maintain the consumer’s account.
As a consumer, it is a good idea to shop around regularly. Switch retailers to enjoy the most competitive energy plans.