What is electricity?
Electricity is the set of physical phenomena related to the presence and flow of electrical charges. It manifests in many ways: lightning, static, electromagnetic induction, or the flow of electrical current.
Who discovered electricity?
Humanity has sensed the presence of electricity since ancient times by observing it in nature. The phenomenon of electricity has been studied for time immemorial, but scientific investigations into it began in the 17th and 18th centuries. At the end of the 19th century, engineers managed to harness it for domestic and industrial use. The rapid expansion of electrical technology made it the backbone of modern industrial society.
What types of electricity are there?
There are two fundamental types of electricity.
It is around a charge at rest or stillness, meaning it doesn’t move or flow. For example, when a piece of amber is rubbed with a piece of wool or a dry cloth, an electronic imbalance occurs in the amber, giving it an electrical charge. Rubbing causes electrons to move from the cloth to the amber; thus, the amber is negatively charged and the cloth has a positive charge. This charge stays in the amber until it is somehow balanced (with atoms from the air or our body, perhaps).
It is generated around a moving charge, or in other words, the flow of an electric charge: electric current. This requires a constant source of electricity that makes electrons flow through the body of a conductive material.
Which materials are electrically conductive?
Electrical conductivity is matter’s ability to allow the passage of electrical charges. This property is the opposite of resistance. Depending on their nature, these materials may be:
Conductive materials: these allow electrons to move on their surface once exposed to electricity. Some of the electrical charge is lost, and heat is generated in this process. The best-known conductors are metals and some versions of carbon, as well as most salts.
Dielectric or insulating materials: these do not allow electricity to flow, which is why they are used as protectors and cable covers.Examples: glass, bakelite, and plastics.
Semiconductor materials: these allow the flow of electricity under certain conditions (temperature, pressure, etc.), while they act as insulators in other situations. Examples: silicon, cadmium, and germanium.
Superconducting materials: these allow electricity to flow without any wear or loss of charge, as long as certain temperature conditions are maintained. Examples: tin and aluminum.
What benchmarks are there in the electricity sector in Spain?
Several Eurostat (European statistical office) reports indicate that Spain is one of the European countries with the most expensive electricity.
The average electrical energy generated in Spain has evolved in recent years. In 2001, 56% of the energy was generated at fossil fuel thermal plants (mainly coal and fuel oil). In 2010, 35% of the energies were renewable, and numerous combined cycle plants (natural gas) were created; in 2009, these covered 29% of demand.
The production of hydraulic energy varies over the years (depending on rainfall). Meanwhile, wind energy in Spain covered 7.7% of demand in 2005, and in 2013, it reached 21.1% to become the technology with the greatest contribution to meeting demand, even more so than nuclear energy. In fact, Spain’s five nuclear power plants have seen their participation in meeting demand go down progressively.
As for Ferrovial, the company has Power Infrastructure among its business units. Through it, they provide comprehensive solutions for developing and managing electricity transmission networks, adding value to the entire life cycle of infrastructure and taking advantage of the synergies generated with the rest of the businesses to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain assets.
Currently, Power Infrastructure’s main assets in electricity transmission aren’t located in Europe. There are three:
- Transchile Charrúa Transmission: a 204-kilometer 220kV double-circuit line with a transmission capacity of 500 MVA per circuit. The line belongs to Chile’s National Transmission System, the backbone of the electrical system. The line serves more than 300,000 households in the south of the country.
- Centella Transmission: In July 2018, it was awarded 100% of a concession to build and operate the Nueva Pan de Azúcar – Punta Sierra – Centella transmission line, about 250 kilometers (2 x 220 kV) located north of Santiago Chile, with a nominal capacity of 580 MVA per circuit.
- Tap Mauro: in February 2020, it was awarded a concession for building, operating, and maintaining a four-circuit transmission line that has 3 km per circuit. Commercial operation is scheduled for 2023.
Fun facts about electricity
- Lightning can reach up to 10 billion kilowatts (7,000 times the power of a nuclear power plant). More than 75% of this energy is dissipated as heat, raising the temperature to 30,000°C, six times the temperature of the sun’s surface.
- The word electricity comes from the Greek elektron, which means amber.
- The word volt pays tribute to Italian physicist Alessandro Volta (1745-1823), inventor of the electric battery (in 1800), among other things.
- “The war of the currents” took place between Nikola Tesla (who advocated for alternating current) and Thomas Edison (defender of direct current) around 1880. Alternating current won the technological war, and it’s what we use today.
- The English city of Godalming (Surrey) was the first to change out gas public lighting for an electricity system in 1881.
- The speed of electricity is very close to that of light.