Summary Power Grids
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.