Electricity – Energy Education

Electricity is energy taken advantage of the configuration or movement of electrons – the first being static electricity, the latter being electricity that comes from power plug or flows through the overhead power lines. It is important to note that when using electricity, the device does not “consume” electrons (see cargo conservation law) Instead, it consumes the energy temporarily “retained” by the electrons. For this reason, electricity is considered a energy currency: electricity transfers energy from one electric power plant (primary energy) to a home (end-use energy) After all, this is more convenient than a coal power plant in a neighborhood (see: Not in my backyard syndrome)

Electricity is responsible for energy phones, electric lights, heaterscomputers, televisions, pacemakers and even some cars! So it is essential for our high energy society.

How is it generated?

For a more in-depth look, visit the page: electricity generation.

Electricity is generated in several different ways. All of these methods require a fuel or one primary energy flow. Primary fuels for generation include (to name a few) coal, natural gasand uranium, while primary flows include tides, windand solar.

Where is it generated?

Power plants are rarely within cities. This is due to many factors: price of land, availability of a heat sink, plant size, fuel availability and emissions. Most of these factors, such as land prices and Water availability, are easy to identify and quantify. Despite this, one of the main limiting factors for the construction of a plant is the negative public attitude. As it was seen repeatedly, plant managers need to consider public opinion, not just the physical location. People want their opinion, and because of that, power plants tend to be built outside cities.

This often contributes to an inadequate understanding of the side effects of power generation; Including carbon dioxide and another greenhouse gas emissions private matterand other environmental factors pollutants. When building these facilities on the outskirts of cities, an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality prevails. As an example, how many people know where their home electricity comes from and how it is produced?

Figure 1: A plant that is obviously not within a city, look at the extensive overhead lines used to transport part of the electricity generated[1].


For more information, read: electrical network.

As mentioned before, power plants are often found outside our cities – easily, up to 1,000 kilometers far. This means that electricity needs to be transported from the plant, to the city or area and, from there, sent to individual homes. For that to happen, a wide electrical network if necessary, this network uses a variety of mechanisms to transport and distribute electricity effectively.

Worldwide use of electricity

Below is a chart representing the world electricity generation and how it has grown in recent decades. Notice how electricity usage is growing faster than energy usage, which are growing faster than world population. The different drop-down menus change which countries or regions are displayed, along with the type of graph used and the variables considered. Observe the relative generation of electricity. Europe has about 1 billion people, North America has about 500 million and Asia almost 4 billion.

For Further Reading


Paula Fonseca