The electricity used to provide power for your electronics, appliances, lighting, etc. travels from a power plant that may be located dozens or even hundreds of miles away from your home. As you may already know, electricity is a secondary energy source, which must be derived from a primary source. Let’s dig a little deeper and find out where our electricity truly comes from and how it so conveniently arrives at our homes for us to use whenever we need it.
Coal and natural gas (both fossil fuels) are the most widely used sources for generating electricity in the U.S. and are burned to power steam or gas turbines. Fossil fuels are the cheapest form of power generation, but they also greatly contribute to air pollution and natural resource depletion.
Renewable energy sources are healthier for the environment; they’re cleaner, don’t deplete natural resources, and don’t release carbon emissions. One downside is the cost, which is typically higher than coal and natural gas. The use of renewable sources for generating energy is expected to grow substantially over the next twenty years.
Wind turbines are used to create electricity.
Hydropower plants create electricity using water to spin a turbine that’s connected to a generator.
There are two main types of technology used to generate electricity using solar power. A photovoltaic (or PV) system generates electricity using direct sunlight, while a solar-thermal power system uses the sun to power a steam turbine to generate electricity.
A geothermal plant uses heat from the earth to power steam turbines.
Nuclear energy is another commonly used energy source in the States. Nuclear power plants use split uranium atoms in a process referred to as nuclear fission to power steam turbines. This eliminates the air pollution associated with the combustion of fossil fuels but produces radioactive waste, which must be carefully handled and stored for many years.
How Electricity Travels to Your Home
Once the electricity is generated in the plant, it passes through transformers, where the voltage is increased. Then the electric current is sent through the high-voltage transmission lines you see along highways and interstates to a substation closer to your home, where the voltage is lowered. Next, it will be sent through distribution lines to a transformer in your neighborhood that reduces the voltage again to a level that is safe for your home. It eventually makes its way to your home, is delivered to your service panel, and then travels into the electrical wiring throughout your home. Voila, you have power!
We hope you find this information interesting and that it gives you a big-picture view of where your electricity comes from. If you need any electrical repairs at your home or workplace, call Pacific. We provide service to customers throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.