Around the world, electricity is made to travel across transmission lines to deliver power to homes, businesses and a whole lot of infrastructure. Although it might make sense to some for this electricity to travel at lower voltages in order to conserve power, this actually has the opposite effect, particularly when the electricity is required to travel long distances, as is often the case in Australia. There are many reasons why high voltages are necessary, though, so in this article we take a look at electricity transmission in Australia.
Why high voltages can be so important
Despite electricity posing a risk to people and objects alike – which is why high voltage testing is so important – it’s actually the case that power is transmitted at high voltages to increase overall efficiency. This is because when electricity travels over long distances, there are actually considerable losses of power along the way. To make up for this, the use of high voltage electricity allows for less electricity to be lost along the way. Minimising these power losses is possible due to a higher voltage leading to a lower current, and it is this lower current that allows for much lower resistances in the conductors. And, as you might imagine, when these energy losses are lowered, there is far less electricity lost to all of this movement. If you’ve considered that these energy losses wouldn’t matter as much over smaller distances, you’d definitely be right – electrical engineers are tasked with taking distance into account when determining the ideal transmission of voltage, and will consider both the power being transmitted and the distance required of the transmission when making their calculation.
How electricity voltages fit into the market
Although using high voltages in relation to electricity transmission is related to efficiency, economic benefits are also taken into consideration with this approach. This is because the lower currents that are utilised through high voltage electricity transmission effectively reduce conductor resistance along the cables that are used. As a result of this, thin, lighter gauge wires can be more effectively used to transport electricity over longer distances. These thinner, more lightweight wires have a very positive effect on the overall infrastructure as well – less weight means that the transmission towers do not need to be designed and built to support the heavier wires, which saves considerably on material cost and build time. This also ensures that towers can be built in more remote areas for smaller amounts of money, particularly due to the cost of working in regional locations incurring a higher cost from the outset. These factors make something that seems expensive – high voltages of electricity over long distances – and makes them much more financially agreeable than they first appear.
High voltage in relation to renewables
Renewable energy has steadily been increasing over the last couple of decades as the cost of entry continues to fall. This renewable growth has also had some impact on high voltage electricity transmission across the country as well due to an increasing demand in relation to more localised energy creation. In the same way, the need to replace and upgrade existing infrastructure means that the high voltage market will continue to grow and thrive.