The power grid is the biggest appliance you use every day. We hardly think about it, but it is what keeps our country running.
What is the Power Grid and How Does it Work?
The power grid is a network for delivering electricity to consumers. The power grid includes generator stations, transmission lines and towers, and individual consumer distribution lines.
Step 1: Energy is Generated
The generator produces energy.
Step 2: Energy is Converted to High Voltage
Convert energy into a high voltage for distribution.
Step 3: Distribution and Consumer Use
Power lines deliver power to populated areas while transformers intersect the high voltage power and convert it back to a voltage that houses can use. Then power is delivered to consumers.
How do we Generate Power? Coal, water, natural gas, nuclear, oil, and wind are all ways that we produce energy.
Hydroelectric power is produced from moving water. Water can push a turbine in order to harness energy for consumption. Hydroelectric power relies on the water cycle. The amount of rain that drains into rivers and streams determines the amount of water available for producing energy.
Burning coal is another way to light our homes. Coal is the world's most abundant and cheapest fossil fuel but also releases the most pollution into our atmosphere. Coal is found in China, India, and the United States.
If you have ever driven though Indiana, you have probably seen hundreds of windmills turning on the horizon. Wind power takes advantage of airflow to turn an electric generator. Although wind power is a variable power that depends on the weather, it is a stable source of energy over a long-term period. It is a reliable resource to meet power needs.
Nuclear power is produced by harnessing a process called nuclear fission. Nuclear fission is breaking apart bunches of neutrons by splitting spontaneously or on impact with another particle, with the release of energy. This happens within a nuclear reactor. The power plant harnesses the energy from the split by using a cooling chamber that removes the heat from the reactor core. They do this by using a cooling system that generates steam, which powers a steam turbine. The turbine converts the steam to mechanical energy and then to electrical energy.
There are many interesting ways to generate power, and they all come together to power our nation’s power grid.