Electricity is always so instantaneous that it’s hard to believe exactly how it’s generated and how it gets to you, so let’s take a look at just how electricity does get to your house.
There are several different electricity grids in Australia and in total they are hundreds of thousands of kilometres long. With over 850,000 km of distribution grid and 45,000 km of transmission grid across the country, it’s one of the longest connected electricity markets in the world.
The grid encompasses all the elements required to move electricity from its original source to your home.
Let’s look at each of its main components in a little more detail.
Power can be generated in many different ways. Electricity can be generated from wind, solar, coal, natural gas, hydroelectric dams, and nuclear to name a few.
Once the power has been created, it then needs to start moving out towards its final destination – your home.
The electricity leaves the power station, usually through overhead lines, and makes its way to a large substation. These are normally located not too far from the power station.
Here at the substation, the voltage of the electricity is increased. This is achieved with the use of transformers. This helps the electricity to travel longer distances and reach its destination without losing too much current.
The electricity then leaves the first substation via overhead power transmission lines supported by pylons, or via underground cables.
Metal pylons are easy enough to spot when you’re out and about. These are carrying electricity from the initial substation to smaller substations around the area.
Alternatively, the electricity is sent via cables buried underground. These are well-protected to prevent the electricity escaping and affecting the surrounding land (this could be very dangerous).
Once the electricity arrives at a smaller, local substation, the voltage is decreased to make sure it travels at safe levels to its final destination.
From these smaller substations, the electricity finally travels along overhead power lines (usually fixed to wooden poles) or underground cable systems, to your home. Transformers on these lines help to decrease the voltage again, resulting in electricity that is ready to use as soon as you flick a switch.
When the electricity arrives at your home, it’s recorded at your meter which tracks how much you use.
Your switchboard helps to divide up the electricity to be sent to the various electrical circuits that make up your home. Once there, it moves to the power outlets and switches you use to control your electricity use.