Generation of electricity
Right at the top of the energy generation chain are the power generating modules (power plants), which convert a wide variety of primary energy sources into electricity.
Basically, electricity can be generated and distributed either centrally or decentrally:
- Decentralised, or “distributed”, generation refers to the use of distributed energy resources (DERs) to generate power close to the load the DERs serve. For instance, small power plants are used to meet the demand for energy in or around residential areas.
- By contrast, when electricity is generated centrally, the power generated comes from large power plants/power generating modules such as run-of-river power plants, gas power plants and wind farms. The electrical energy generated is fed from the power plants to the high or ultra-high voltage grid and distributed to both industrial users and private consumers via the grid infrastructure. These power plants are usually located outside of residential areas, and the electricity generated must travel long distances to reach the consumer. Thus one major issue in centralised generation is the energy losses incurred during the transformation between voltage levels and during transmission over high-voltage lines.