Electric energy or electricity is the current of energy that originates from the difference in electrical potential between two determined points, when they are brought into contact by an electrical transmitter.
This current consists of the transmission of negative charges (electrons) through a suitable material for it, such as metals, from the point of generation (and / or storage) to the point of consumption, which is usually used to convert it into other forms energy: light, mechanical or thermal.
In everyday life, the electrical energy we consume comes from an electrical line or network, which we access through plugs or sockets, as well as the installation of electrical circuits in our homes, such as those we activate when we turn on a light. This network is fed by the companies that provide this service, which are usually in charge of generating and distributing electricity in cities, regions or entire countries.
Each time a switch is actuated, an electrical circuit is closed and the movement of electrons is generated through the conductive wire. The moving charges are part of the atoms of the wire substance, which is usually metallic, since metals with more free electrons than other substances are the best conductors of electricity. Most of the electrical energy consumed in daily life comes from the electrical network through so-called plugs, through which the energy supplied by the electrical companies reaches the different household appliances: washing machine, radio, TV, etc.
Types of electrical energy
The produced by the contact of a positive and a negative charge, is the type of current that we use in our daily use devices and that allows the operation of the bulbs.
That produced by the friction of two bodies capable of being electrically charged, as occurs when a comb is rubbed with a handkerchief made of certain materials, or when an arm is brought to the screen of an old television.
Hand in hand with other forms of energy such as chemistry, it is the manageable and controllable form of electricity, from the constant flow of electrons through a conductor.
That electrical current that is kept in continuous movement by conductors, as it happens in circuits.
The electricity itself from electromagnetic fields, as in large industrial magnets.
On the other hand, two forms of electric current are known, ordinary current and alternating current, the latter being the one that varies cyclically in its magnitude and direction.
Characteristics of electrical energy
Start of reaction:
Energy is characterized by being the initial cause of any physical or chemical reaction, all movement is produced by energy. Energy is the generating force of all movement.
Energy has the characteristic of being quantifiable; For each type of energy a type of measurement has been created, be it thermal, chemical or physical, even nuclear and atomic energy have measurement parameters.
Many energies or energy sources can be stored as with fuels, coal and electricity, which also allows their mobility and transfer.
It is neither created nor destroyed:
This principle consists in that physically and chemically energy is only transformed, it cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be transformed.
Energy degrades, so once used, it can no longer be used.
Electric energy formula
To calculate the power consumed by a device connected to an electrical circuit, the value of the voltage, in volt (V), applied is multiplied by the value of the intensity (I) of the current that runs through it (expressed in ampere).
To perform this mathematical calculation, the following formula is used:
P = V • I
Expressed in words: Power (P) is equal to the voltage (V) multiplied by the Intensity (I).
As the power is expressed in watt (W), we substitute the “P” that identifies the power by its equivalent, that is, the “W” of watt, we also have that: P = W, therefore,
W = V • I
Expressed in words: Watt (W) is equal to Voltage (V) multiplied by Intensity (I).
If we know the power in watts of a device and the applied voltage (V) and we want to find the intensity of current (I) that flows through a circuit, we solve the previous formula and perform the corresponding mathematical operation:
If we observe the formula W = V • I we will see that the voltage and the intensity of the current that flows through an electrical circuit are directly proportional to the power; that is, if one of them increases or decreases its value, the power also increases or decreases proportionally.
Then we can deduce that, 1 watt (W) is equal to 1 ampere of current (I) that flows through a circuit, multiplied by 1 volt (V) of voltage or applied voltage.
1 watt = 1 volt • 1 ampere
How is electrical energy produced?
Electrical energy is produced in a number of ways, including:
They convert the heat energy from the sun into electrical energy, through a system of panels that receive radiation directly.
They produce electricity from the rotation of turbines driven by water vapor, heated by various combustions: coal, hydrocarbons, nuclear reactions, the heat of the earth, etc.
There are also power plants that take advantage of waterfalls (hydroelectric) or strong winds (wind) to mobilize their turbines and generate electricity.
Once this electricity is produced, it is transmitted through power lines to cities and facilities that require it or stored in various types of circuits.
Advantages of electric power
- Electric power is very easy to transport and distribute.
- Meets the needs of home and office.
- It allows its accessibility to the most remote places.
- With electrical energy it helps to light the streets and the operation of electrical appliances.
Disadvantages of electric power
- In the industry it does not satisfy some caloric uses that require high temperatures.
- When electrical energy is transported in coal plants, it releases by-products that are toxic to the environment.
- By obtaining electricity we destroy many natural habitats.
- People who overuse electricity as a source of energy are not helping the environment.
- Electric power is so fundamental today that it would disappear.
Examples of electrical energy
- Urban lighting: The incorporation of electricity to cities was a revolution, which replaced gas lamps and allowed the useful hours of urban life to be extended by several more hours.
- Using a television. As well as any domestic appliance powered by the plug to the zonal network: a mixer, a microwave, a toaster, etc.
- Medical defibrillators. In emergency rooms these devices are used that accumulate electrical voltage and allow it to be discharged on the body of patients in cardiac arrest, to reactivate their pulses.
- The Lightning. During a thunderstorm, the difference in electrical potential between the ground and the air is such that compensatory discharges, known as lightning strikes, are generated. We can see them with the naked eye.
What is electrical energy for?
The great power of electricity is its ability to transform itself into other forms of energy, which makes it an extremely versatile resource. It can be fed with electrical energy to a machine that performs certain tasks, both physical and computational, or illuminate a room with a light bulb, or heat it during the winter thanks to a resistance.
Electric power and environment
The relationship between access to electricity and the environment is undeniable. The absence of this becomes an impediment to health and disease prevention. For the UN, indoor air pollution due to the burning of traditional fuels is one of the main factors causing diseases in the respiratory tract. Annually, almost two million children under the age of five die due to the lack of acceptable minimums, all of them related to the lack of electricity. Furthermore, in many areas of the planet, the use of biomass or wood has caused irreversible deforestation of large areas and territories comparable to those of some European countries.
At this point, the production of electricity through renewable energies has taken on more importance, but requires a large investment of public and private money. One solution, which would allow the population to access energy and reduce environmental pollution, is that renewable sources are widespread in homes, as well as distribution and transformation systems. Thus, the large electricity distributors would not be as important, although they would continue to work to locally balance the electricity needs of small communities.
Climate change and the damage to our natural environment have made it necessary for the electric power generation process to be carefully examined by States and private companies, carrying out a serious study on energy sources, a clearer management of waste that generates and viable alternatives that allow minimizing the impact that some energy sources produce on the environment.
It is not necessary to mention that energy is a limited resource and, therefore, it is everyone’s task to rationalize its consumption, a culture of proactive generation and saving of the State and society immanent to the human being and to democracy. A clear example is that around 65% of the energy used to generate electricity is lost as waste heat without governments taking action. So, when global society becomes aware of the importance of electricity and the little good it represents for a wide layer of the population, it is likely that it will be possible to ensure its existence. Ultimately, it is about creating global programs of insurance and access to energy productions, clean, effective and, most importantly, for all.
In the search for wider access, an average European household, or anywhere in the world, could reduce its annual electricity consumption if it had a solar system with energy storage, and panels of sufficient size, so that only he would have to draw on electricity sources a few hours a week. This means that the consumer would have an active attitude in the generation system, selling its surpluses and where the electrical generation network would pass a passive management to the system.