Electricity is the flow of electrical power or charge. It is a secondary energy source because it is converted from another (primary) source of energy, such as coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear or renewable sources. Electricity can be made from either renewable or non-renewable energy sources, but it is neither renewable nor non-renewable since it is a secondary source.
Electricity has grown in technological leaps and bounds ever since 1752, when Benjamin Franklin flew a kite with a metal key tied to the string during a thunderstorm to prove that lightning was electric.
Today, it is a necessary component to our fast-moving society.
How Electricity Works
Everything we touch is made up of matter, and matter is made up of tiny “building blocks” of atoms. Within the atoms are even smaller, electrically charged particles called electrons. The movement of the electrons creates electricity. Electrons transmit an electrical charge through solid matter (such as metal) to produce an electrical current. The number of electrons moving in an electrical circuit is called “amperage,” or current, measured in amps. The pressure pushing the electrons is “voltage,” measured in volts. Electricity travels at the speed of light, more than 186,000 miles (299,338 kilometers) per second.
And how is electricity moved from where it is created to where people need to use it? Transformers (electric devices that move electric energy from one set of circuits to another) are used to efficiently transmit electricity over long distances. This makes it possible to supply electricity to homes and businesses located far from an electric generating plant. The electricity produced by a generator travels along cables to a transformer, which changes electricity from low voltage to high voltage. Transmission lines are used to carry the electricity to a substation. Substations have transformers that change the high-voltage electricity into lower-voltage electricity. From the substation, distribution lines carry the electricity to homes and buildings that require low-voltage electricity.
All sources of electricity must have a positive terminal and a negative terminal, and electrons will always flow from the negative to the positive through a conductor (copper wire, for example).