How do we move electricity?
Once electricity is made at power stations, it needs to get to our homes, schools and hospitals – but how?
Tall pylons carry power lines from the power stations to substations near where we live. From there, cables buried underground carry this electricity to our homes and schools.
What happens to unused electricity?
As it’s not possible to store large amounts of electricity, every minute of the day electrical technicians perform an elaborate balancing act between supply and demand.
They monitor what we are doing at home or school or work, and when they notice that we are all switching on a kettle, say at the end of a football match, they switch on additional supply.
Some sources of power provide a speedy response, like releasing more water into a hydroelectric power plant or cranking up the power in a gas-fired power station.
Other sources, like nuclear, are slower to turn up or down.
However, sometimes things do go wrong. When one or more power stations don’t quite get the balancing act right, this causes a power cut, like the ones the country saw in May 2008.
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Curious Kate is supported by British Gas Generation Green.