Power lines. We see them everyday, yet we never notice them. From our homes to our offices, this complicated electrical delivery systems is one of many that provide us with the essential energy we need everyday to survive.
Most of our electricity comes from a centralized system, or an electricity grid. 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. Sadly, over 65% of our energy total came from burning fossil fuels, further damaging our planet.
The majority of the infrastructure for electricity production is power lines which transport electricity from the power plant to the consumers. Low voltage electricity is upped by a power plant transformer from 3-30 kV to 110-750 kV. This increase in power causes a loss of about 1-6% of energy through heat loss.
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 and convert 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 is used by almost 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. One reason to do this is the concern for 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.