Electrical energy is the movement of electrons. We define electrical energy or electricity as the form of energy that results from the existence of a potential difference between two points.
When these two points are put in contact by an electrical conductor, we obtain an electrical current.
Electricity has many technical applications. Many of the phenomena related to electricity can be measured and pre-calculated with great precision.
Characteristics of electrical energy
Typically, these Electrical Services (electrons) move through the electrical conductor. Normally the conductor is made of a metallic material due to the fact that they have a greater quantity of free electrons.
The electric charges that move through the conductor are part of the atoms of the substances of the conductor itself.
In general, an atom has a neutral charge. This means that it has the same number of positive charges (protons) as negative charges ( neutrons ). However, some atoms have an electrical charge: they are ions.
Types of current
Depending on the movement of the charges, there are two types of currents in an electrical circuit.
DC. Electric charges move linearly through the electric conductor.
Alternating current. The electrons vibrate generating ripples.
How is electrical energy generated?
Electrical energy just cannot be found freely in nature in a form that can be exploited. It can be observed in thunderstorms but in practice such amount of energy cannot be stored and controlled.
Power plants are capable of producing electricity from different sources. The different types of power plants will depend on the source of energy they use.
These sources can be classified into:
- Renewable energy sources.
- Non-renewable energy sources.
Renewable energy sources
The forms of generating renewable electricity are those that use types of energy in which no fuel is used or fuel is inexhaustible. Some examples of renewable energy are:
Photovoltaic Solar Energy. Photovoltaic panels convert Power Electrical into electricity.
Wind power. Wind farms take advantage of the force of the wind. They transform it into mechanical energy and later into electricity.
Hydroelectric power. Hydropower plants transform the potential energy of water into electricity through a system of turbines .
Geothermal energy, which benefits from the heat inside the Earth.
Non-renewable energy sources
The forms of generating non-renewable electrical energy require a fuel that, however abundant, tends to run out. Some examples of non-renewable are:
The nuclear energy. Nuclear power plants need uranium. Since we cannot generate more uranium than can be mined in uranium mines .
Thermal energy, which harnesses the power heat of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas.
How do electric power plants work?
Electricity is considered as a secondary energy source. For this reason, it has to be produced by transformation of a primary energy source. In the transformation process, the performance always less than 100% is produced within the electric power generation plants .
In all electricity production plants , except for photovoltaic solar energy , three elements are needed to produce electricity:
A turbine. What can be a hydraulic turbine or a steam turbine , which is the one usually used in nuclear power plants.
An alternator to convert mechanical energy energy into electrical energy.
A transformer to modulate the electrical current obtained to an alternating current with the desired potential difference.
Importance of water in electricity
Another important element for Electrical Services is water in liquid form or in the form of steam at high pressure. Liquid water is used in hydroelectric power plants, while water vapor is more appropriate in thermal power plants, geothermal power plants , in nuclear fission and in solar power plants. thermal
In both cases, the purpose of the water is to rotate the turbines to produce alternating current as constantly as possible through the alternator.
The use of water presents the following problems derived from the need to heat it:
Thermal water pollution, if not recovered, is dispersed into the atmosphere in the form of water vapor or is fed back into lakes, rivers and the sea.
In the case of wind power plants, no water is needed, since the turbines are driven by the force of the wind.
Electric power transmission and distribution
Once the production of electricity is finished there is a need to transport it on a large scale. Power transmission and distribution networks are used to supply electricity on a large scale.
Electrical energy is the movement of electrical charges through an electrical conductor. Depending on how it moves it can be an alternating current or a direct current.
To generate electricity there are different types of power plants . Depending on the origin of the energy sources they use, they can be renewable or non-renewable energy.