We are so used to having electricity and electrical appliances in our homes and workplaces that we don’t even think about what it takes to get the electricity from the power plant back to us. This is a complicated process and your nearest power plant may be miles or tens of miles away from you, and the electricity must travel all that way into your home or office.
Most of our electricity comes from a centralized system, or an electricity grid. This system has been in place since the dawn of electrical era, and is so ubiquitous that we have a tough time imagining a different system.
The electricity production starts with the power plants. The USA currently uses a wide variety of energy sources for electricity production including nuclear, hydro-electric, coal and natural gas power plants. As a recent trend, there are renewable energy plants as well, running on wind, solar and biomass energy. In total, in 2016, the US has produced over 4 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity from all its sources. Sadly, over 65% of this total came from burning fossil fuels, further damaging our planet. All of this energy needs to find its way to the consumers, however.
High voltage lines
The majority of the infrastructure for electricity production is power lines which transport electricity from the power plant to the consumers. In order to do this with as few losses as possible, the relatively low voltage of electricity produced at the power plant is upped by the power plant’s transformer. So electricity is ramped up from around 3-30 kV to 110-750kV. However, transporting electricity at such high voltages and over such vast distances does come with a cost. Electrical current is essentially electrons moving really fast, and when something moves really fast, the result is heat. The loss of energy grows with the distance, and can be as low as 1% of the power, but can also go as high as 6%.
Once the electricity reaches the consumers, it is incredibly dangerous, as the voltage is significantly higher than that used by the consumers. The intermediary between the high voltage transmission lines and the consumers are the substations. They take in the high voltage electricity, which is then converted into more manageable voltages for further transportation. The transformers inside these substations can convert electricity to different power levels, depending on the needs. Distribution substations change the voltage back to the 3-30kV range which can be used by the consumers. The electricity can be delivered overhead, using electrical posts, or underground, which is more common in big cities.
This model of the electricity grid has been around for so long, and is used by all electricity-powered facilities. However, in recent years, there have been some small changes. There are people who install solar panels or other means of electricity production in order to reduce their dependency on the power grid. There are several reasons people choose to do this. One reason is their concern over the environment. By not contributing to the consumption of electricity from the power grid, people are helping reduce our carbon footprint.
Another significant reason to use solar power is the cost. Once you install the solar panels, you are the owner of the means of electricity production. That translates into no more electricity bills. If you install industrial solar lighting on your commercial facility, the only cost you have is the initial investment and regular maintenance. When you factor in how much electricity lighting actually costs per month, this new model starts to sound quite appealing.
Need industrial solar lighting?
Greenshine Solar offers a wide variety of solar powered fixtures ranging from garden lights, to parking lot lights, and to industrial solar lighting. If you are looking to transition to this new model, contact Greenshine to learn more.