From generation to your home

When we press a switch lights come on, appliances work and large industries manufacture products. Have we ever wondered how this is done? There are actually processes involved in getting electricity to our homes and offices. When there is black out its common to hear people in our country say things like “NEPA or PHCN has taken light”. Have we ever wondered how “PHCN takes the light” like we say in a lay man’s language. What we refer to as “light” in this context is electricity.

Electricity was first discovered during the 1820s and early 1830s by the British scientist, Michael Faraday. The process of getting electricity to consumer or to our homes, offices and industries is actually by Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electricity. According to Wikipedia Electricity generation, which is the first process in the delivery of electricity to consumer is the process of generating electric power from other sources of primary energy. This primary energy can be water, gas, sun, steam, wind, fossil, waste etc. Electricity is most often generated at a power station by electromechanical generators, primarily driven by heat engines fueled by chemical combustion or nuclear fission but also by other means such as the kinetic energy of flowing water and wind.

In Nigeria, Electricity production over the last 40 years has varied from gas-fired, oil fired, hydroelectric power stations to coal-fired stations with hydroelectric power systems and gas fired systems taking precedence. Electricity is generated at between 11.5 – 16kV and stepped up by a step-up transformer to 330kV at the Power stations.

The next phase of getting power to the consumer is Transmission. Transmission begins with the transportation of voltage, 330kV along transmission lines (otherwise referred to as conductors) and is stepped down by a transformer to 132kV at the Transmission substation, this voltage is further transported along transmission lines to Injection substations and stepped down to 33kV. Distribution of electricity starts at this point. The voltage is stepped down by a distribution transformer to 11kV which in turn is stepped down to 0.415kV and further stepped down to 240V before it gets to our homes or offices.

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