Feature Reports

Power Grids

Power grids come in all capacities and sizes. This photo shows local distribution lines in Guadeloupe in the French West Indies.

On its journey from the power plant to the end consumer, electricity flows through a grid of overhead and/or underground power lines. Transmission and distribution rely wholly on cable. High and extra-high voltage overhead power lines connect to the medium and low voltage distribution grid, where substations, transformers and circuit breakers ensure a safe and secure stream of electricity. Increasingly, these physical grids are being joined by smart grids that optimize the management of supply and demand using digital technology. Renewable energies, smart meters and electric vehicle charging stations are all key components in the movement towards smarter energy consumption, giving us a taste of what tomorrow’s smart, hyper-connected cities will look like. Across continents, national transmission grids are often interconnected so that countries can help each other out in the event of unexpected electricity shortages. Capacity allocation systems are in place in the European Union (E.U.) in an effort to harmonize the internal energy market, a goal that was set for 2015. A super grid for distributing electricity to countries across Europe on a needs basis – regardless of where it is generated – is on the horizon.

Les smart grids, le transport intelligent

In developing countries, electricityForm of energy resulting from the movement of charged particles (electrons) through a conductor... demand is steadily growing. In an effort to balance the tricky equation of supply and demand, smart grids are being developed that point to the smart cities of tomorrow.

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Les interconnexions européennes

After the Second World War, European countries set up interconnections between national powerIn physics, power is the amount of energy supplied by a system per unit time. In simpler terms, power can be viewed as energy output... grids to meet their respective energy needs. These cross-border power lines allow countries to help one another immediately in the event of an unexpected energy shortage. When a shortage occurs, European countries buy and sell electricityForm of energy resulting from the movement of charged particles (electrons) through a conductor... among themselves, exchanging between 100 to 120 TWh of power per month on average.

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