How was energy formed


Electricity: socket, plug, ready?

Electricity comes from the socket. Point. Sounds easy enough, but behind it there is a complex technical system, a lot of know-how and a long technological development.

In physical terms, electrical current is understood to mean the movement of charges (electrons) in electrical conductors. Its consumption is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) and the availability (power) in kilowatts (kW). The application of these particle movements and their generation has fundamentally determined the development of human society. Electrical energy is the basis of technical and economic processes today. The creation of humane living conditions is essentially made possible by electrical energy.

Our life is inconceivable without an energy supply: No hot food, no cold beer, no television, no car jaunts, no disco, no internet ...

The energy that we need as heat, electricity or fuel must be generated from primary energy sources. There are three types of energy sources available: fossil energy sources, renewable energy sources and nuclear energy sources.

Electricity Generation: Many types are available

Electricity is generated in power plants. The so-called base load covers power plants with the lowest operating costs; these are primarily nuclear power plants, run-of-river power plants and lignite power plants. Hard coal-fired power plants are used for the medium load, while storage hydropower plants as well as natural gas and heating oil power plants provide peak loads. The use of the power plants is assessed by the utilization period, which is obtained when the annual electricity production (kWh) is divided by the nominal output (kW).

In 1999, the general supply power plants installed in Germany generated almost 460 billion kilowatt hours (billion kWh) of electricity. Of this, 34.8 percent was produced in nuclear power plants, 26.0 percent from lignite and 25.3 percent from hard coal. Natural gas accounts for 7.4 percent of electricity generation, heating oil 0.3 percent. 6.2 percent of German electricity generation came from renewable energy sources, of which 4.6 percent came from hydropower plants.

The main source of energy is the sun

Fossil fuels are essentially coal, oil and natural gas. Their stocks are limited, they have to be found using a laborious prospecting method and developed through boreholes, mines or open-cast mining. They were formed over millions of years from plant residues that were hermetically sealed in sand and mud on the bottom of primeval seas and torn into the depths by geological movements. Here chemical processes under pressure and temperature gradually ensured the formation of the main energetic components carbon, hydrocarbons and methane.

The original source of energy for fossil fuels is the sun: It made photosynthesis possible in the plants, through which biomass was formed. Solar radiation is not only a source of energy in itself, but also the origin of most other renewable energy sources: The warming of the atmosphere creates wind, the evaporation of water and rain maintain the flow of rivers, wood, straw and other renewable sources grow through photosynthesis Energy resources.

Only geothermal heat is generated by radioactive decay heat in the earth's core and by tectonic movements of the earth's mass. Renewable energy sources regenerate again and again, but their disadvantages are unsecured availability and low power density. This increases the effort involved in using them.

Nuclear energy carriers are uranium and plutonium, a decay product of uranium. They are used as fuel in nuclear power plants. In a controlled chain reaction, part of the binding energy of the atomic nucleus is released through nuclear fission. The uranium reserves are also limited and must be exploited by mining.

In the future, the nuclear binding forces will also be used by nuclear fusion: Energy is generated when the nuclei of hydrogen atoms fuse to form helium in a plasma that is compressed by magnetic fields and heated to high temperatures. If this technique were to be implemented, there would be a practically unlimited source of energy.

Electricity can "not" be stored

Since electrical energy (electricity) cannot be stored in large quantities and with reasonable levels of efficiency, this form of energy must be generated and transported when it is needed.

This is made possible by an extensive power supply network of overhead lines and cables, with the help of which electrical energy can be transported on a large scale (transport network, high-voltage network) and at the same time distributed to individual buildings (medium-voltage network, low-voltage network).