You are on page 1of 6

ELECTRICITY GENERATION, TRANSMISSION AND DISTRIBUTION: A CASE STUDY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

BY

UGONNA CHIDERA MBAEZUE. MSc. POWER PLANT TECHNOLOGIES.
REGISTRATION NUMBER: 201189490

coal has always been a major source of energy for centuries.In the world today.155. placing it at the top with 21. The processes involved. of which the United States of America with its population of 304. and in the process produces electricity. will consume 4. this can be attributed both to the abundant deposits of coal found in the US.5 million. as economic growth rises. and also to the relatively low cost of coal. and 93% of this total was used to produce 4 trillion kWh of electricity. power generation has become a pressing issue.18474kg. coal fired power plants burn coal to make steam. In that same year. 2. Therefore to protect itself and also the masses. Coal was the major source of energy generation. where deposits.603TWh of electricity. This has led to wide spread deregulation of the power sector in various countries.5% of total world produced. In the USA. These policies include incentives to encourage further private investments.509 million short tons (a short ton approx. it was estimated that the world would consume 18.3 million short tons of coal. constituting close to 24% of energy sources. circulate around the method of feeding the coal into the furnace.344 TWh of electricity according to the same data.) and . rank among the highest in the world.000lbs or 907.085. government creates policies aimed at regulating the power generation industry. Pulverised coal system: b. which turns a turbine. These include: a. coal mines in the USA produced about 1. to complement the older plants already in existence.248GWh of the estimated electricity.92 TWh of it. Diagram showing coal deposits in the US - In that year. price capping on electricity prices. taking up to 45% of the total energy sources used. This in itself has not come without its own problems such as cost per kilowatt of electricity. Cyclone furnaces: About 738 coal fired power plants are currently in operation in the USA. According to a report by the IEA for the year 2008. from 26 States. At a later published journal. etc. In the year 2010 alone. the United States estimated to produce 4. proven reserves of natural gas for the year 2009 stood at about 272. Another major source of energy in the USA is Natural gas. the USA was only able to produce 4119. To produce electricity. According to data released by the US Energy Information Agency (EIA). making it the highest consumer for that year. This is due in part to the inability of the various governments to fund the construction and maintenance of power generation plants. for electricity generation.

The FERC has since gone on to set up the ISO’s (Independent Systems Operators) to oversee transmission grids in single US states and RTO’s (Regional Transmission Organisation) to oversee transmission grids over US regions. This is because. used to boil water to produce steam. The first nuclear plant in the USA was commissioned in 1957 and since then. vary from state to state. They generated a total of 807 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh). which is then used by a steam turbine to generate electricity. CO2. In the transmission & distribution of generated electricity. Production process begins with the extraction of natural gas. the government (state) recently introduced a program called Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) to encourage independent electricity generation companies to focus on renewables available in the US. it is then treated to remove impurities such as hydrogen sulfide. a mix of private utilities. in the USA. The government also offers incentives to companies that participate in this program. Uranium-235 is commonly used. Natural gas is a non. transmission and distribution of electricity. A cleaner newer technology called the Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT). or about 20% of the Nation's electricity for the year 2010. whereby atoms of a commonly used element Uranium-235 are bombarded by neutrons. the USA follows a very complex format. hydrocarbons etc. Petroleum: Only 1% of electricity is generated from this source. a process called fission is employed. municipal & state utilities and rural electric co-operatives all play a role in generation. A total figure of electricity generation from this sector stands at about 10%. moisture. In the case of a nuclear power plant. petroleum is used more for transportation and house heating than it is used for electricity generation. One of such is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). These programs. as its atoms are easily split and it is relatively rare in nature. finally. The Department of Energy handles all energy issues. The Renewables: In the USA. Natural gas plants in the US employ various methods to produce electricity from gas and one of them is to burn the gas in a boiler to produce steam. These transmission grids are primarily divided into 3 groups: . and ends with its combustion in boilers and turbines to generate electricity. This heat is then used to produce steam from boiling water. This value has been quite steady for a couple of years. a form of fuel is burnt to produce heat. since the late 80’s.approximately 21 billion cubic feet is harvested yearly from this source. but sets up commissions to oversee the electricity industry. depending on the abundance of each renewable in that state. which involves burning the gas in a combustion turbine and using the hot combustion turbine to make steam to drive a steam turbine is currently being used by most plants. rising to 65 plants with 104 operating nuclear reactors in the year 2010. The energy that the plants and animals originally obtained from the sun is stored in the form of carbon in natural gas. huge amounts of intense heat is produced. splitting them and in the process. the number has grown steadily. In most power plants. by generating a portion of their electricity from them. it is transported to the power plants. Due to this deregulation.renewable fossil fuel formed when layers of buried plants and animals are exposed to intense heat and pressure over years. Third ranked in electricity generation source is Nuclear energy accounting for about one-fifths of total electricity generation. This method has been found to increase efficiency and also lower carbon emission. due to the immense deregulation that has occurred in the electricity sector.

Mexico System: having limited interconnections with the Texas & Western Interconnections. because the electricity would have to be rectified from AC to DC as it flows into the DC power lines. But occasionally. ranging from 138kV-765kV and have been designed to transport electricity at the same precise electrical frequency of 60Hz from remote generators to customers. DC systems are used to for power grids connecting the Western Interconnection and the Eastern Interconnection and also occasionally to transmit power from low-cost power plants. Western Interconnection System: consisting of the southwest and areas west of the America’s Rocky Mountains. DC is used to transmit electricity. Eastern Interconnection System: consisting of 2/3rds of the US. Diagram showing the interconnections. which basically means that the transmission lines have 3 conductors. Texas Interconnection System: connects with others through direct current lines. and then converted back into the AC form as it flows into the AC lines. each carrying one-third of the power. 2. An example of this is the power line running from northern Canada to the US generated from low-cost hydro-electric plants. These interconnections are grouped into 152 regional areas and are overseen by the ISOs and RTOs. Canadian System: having integrations with the Eastern and Western Systems. the voltages are fed through a distribution board. 3. through a 3-phase system.1. to higher cost regions of the US. and can also be directly delivered to industries where it is required to balance torque in electric motors and generators. A larger commission called the North American Reliability Council (NERC) encompasses a further two interconnections: 4. splitting them into individual phases. therefore single phased loads are fed by individual phases. The transmission system consists of an extensive complex network of interconnected high voltage power lines which transmit at voltages. These converters are quite expensive. 5. . This method is used because it requires less conductor material to transmit electricity as opposed to the single or double phase systems at the same voltages. for example. This electricity is usually transmitted as Alternating Current. and cost more than transformers used to step down current from high to low voltages for end users. Direct Current is rarely used in transmission in the US. At residential buildings using single phased loads.

water levels fall due to poor rainfall. the half-life of some of these materials run into many years. as systems can share generating resources in an interconnected network. Environmental impact: The use of an interconnected grid system eliminates the need to set up power generation plants in every state. It is estimated that 37% of USs’ CO2 emissions come from coal fired plants. for maintenance purposes and still be sure that their customers will be supplied electricity from other interconnections. heavy metals such as mercury and volatile compounds which contribute to ground level ozone. This regular maintenance ensures higher reliability of the grid. and plans are currently underway to pump millions of dollars into CO2 capture technology for these plants. produces significant air pollution in the form of carbon dioxide. And in the eventuality of an accident. The achievement of 100% electrification in the US has not come without damage to the environment. therefore proper research needs to be done. not to mention the process of its clean up. to generate electricity.g. Support for weaker grids: not all grids are designed to support certain generator technologies. Therefore in the event that a particular method becomes limited. and also provide access to an independent backup grid connection. As is widely known. other generation technologies can be relied upon. methane (greenhouse gases). e. transmission and distribution in the USA. to discover ways in which they can be properly stored. The benefits of this system (a synchronized interconnected power grid) include: Higher reliability and larger reserve: When supplies are short in one section. Combination of generation mix and supply security: Different generation methods are combined. Although nuclear fission does not produce CO 2. Although oil represents such a small percentage. e. Cost of building new generation capacity is reduced. nuclear power. its impact on marine life is usually disastrous. taking into consideration that the physical structures of the repositories could change over time.g.Diagram of electricity generation. . Better maintenance of the grid: Utility companies who own these grids. can schedule power outages in certain parts of the grid. reserves through the interconnected network can be relied upon to supply electricity. its burning. as these states can get electricity supply through the grid. But an interconnection can help support the weak grid. One such repository is currently being developed in the Yucca Mountains of the United States. there are still worldwide fears about the safety of nuclear plants and how to dispose the waste it produces.

2003. October 2011 10. 2003. 2007.eia. November 2011. University of California at Berkeley. 9. June 2004. Revision 3: National Energy Technology Laboratory. www. Efficient electrical energy transmission and distribution: A report by the International Electrotechnical Commission. Consortium for Electric Reliability Technology Solutions (CERTS): U. Coal-Fired Power Plants in the United States: Examination of the Costs of Retrofitting with CO2 Capture Technology. www. Oren. The Regulatory Assistance Project. Department of Energy Transmission Bottleneck Project Report: Jim Dyer. 2. 5.un. S. 6.org . Massachusetts Institute of Technology. www.pdf: Technical Aspects of Grid Interconnection. August 2006. US Department of Energy. Five Year program plan for fiscal years 2008-2012 for Electric Transmission and Distribution Programs: A report to the United States Congress Pursuant to Section 925. March. June. Sedano. Ensuring generation adequacy in competitive electricity markets: Shmuel S. 8. January 2011. 7.gov: Annual Energy Review 2010. Thomas. Electricity Transmission: A Primer: Matthew H. 3.S. L.iea. 4.org/esa/sustdev/publications/energy/chapter2. Dresselhaus & I.REFERENCES: 1. Brown & Richard P. Alternative energy technologies: M.