How does electricity get to our homes?
By: Shell Energy
20 Nov 2020
Flicking on a light switch or boiling the kettle is something that we do without a second thought. But it’s actually quite the feat when you consider what needs to happen for electricity to travel into your home.
The generating station that powers your local electricity is often located hundreds of miles away. Therefore, one of the prime energy sources – electrical energy – has to do a fair amount before it can help you make a hot cuppa.
If you’ve ever wondered how electricity gets in our homes, this article is for you. We’re exploring everything to do with the energy source of electricity and how it reaches the appliances in your home.
How is electricity made?
Electrical energy comes from tiny charged particles called electrons. It takes different forms, whether it’s coal, water, solar, wind, nuclear or hydro. These elements act as the primary source for electricity, of which it is a secondary element.
In the UK, most of the electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels that are largely natural gas and coal. The volume of electricity generated from coal and gas-fired power stations changes yearly, depending on fuel prices. At Shell Energy, all of our electricity comes from 100% renewable sources like wind, solar and biomass.
Our renewable electricity is certified by Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs), which means that all of the electricity you buy from us is matched with the equivalent amount of units from 100% renewable sources in the UK. You can find out more about our renewable fuel mix here.
What happens to energy before it reaches the home?
With electricity being made at large generating stations, it needs to go through several processes before it ends up in your home. These stations use wind, coal, natural gas, or water, which are converted into energy.
The current is then sent through transformers so that it can increase voltage and push the power in long distances (sometimes hundreds of miles). Next, an electrical charge goes through high-voltage transmission lines across the country before reaching a substation, where the voltage is lowered for smaller power lines.
Now that it’s in smaller power lines, the electricity can travel into your local area, with smaller transformers reducing the power so that it’s safe for our homes. Finally, it connects to your house, going through a meter that measures how much you use.
How does electricity power appliances?
The electricity travels through wires inside the walls to the outlets and switches in your house. At that point, you can power everything in your home – from games consoles to hairdryers, fridges to kettles – and turn light switches on and off.