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What is an electrical distribution system?

An electroenergetic system consists of four fundamental stages, from energy generation to its distribution: 

  1. Generation
  2. Transformation 
  3. Transmission
  4. Distribution

This last stage consists of all the structures needed for energy to be efficiently supplied to end users (households, companies, industries, etc.). This is known as electrical distribution, also called an electrical distribution network or system.

What are electrical substations?

Substations are facilities where voltage transformations and the connection of two or more electrical circuits are carried out with the aim of transmitting and distributing electrical energy. 

Normally, they are located near power plants that generate electricity, and to carry out that transformation, several voltage and measurement switching and regulation devices are used. Once the voltage is reduced from high to medium-low, the electrical energy is ready to be distributed for domestic consumption. 

What requirements must electrical distribution meet?

Considering that the main function of an electrical distribution network is to take the energy from the source that produces it and deliver it to end consumers, its importance lies in:

  • The design, construction, operation, and maintenance of a system that enables providing the continuity and flexibility of the service at the lowest possible cost, with good distribution guaranteed.
  • Offering a service with few variations in voltage, as well as with few or no interruptions.

What are the elements that make up an electrical distribution system?

  • Distribution substation: equipment such as transformers or switches that reduce the high voltage levels of the power transmission lines to branch them into different outputs. 
  • Primary circuit: composed of medium voltage overhead or underground lines, used to power a secondary network or one for industrial consumption.
  • Secondary circuit: overhead lines or distribution substations, medium to low voltage power transformation centers. 

What are smart grids and distributed generation?

Smart grids ensure that an electrical system is sustainable and efficient. Their operation is based on the combination of technology, automation, and even artificial intelligence (IT) at all stages of an electrical system.

Smart grids aim for the electricity supply to be reliable, quality, efficient, and sustainable. Incorporating intelligence techniques into a distribution network facilitates the data exchange and the connection between generating companies, distributing companies, and end users. This way, a smart electrical network is created that can anticipate solutions for storage, network monitoring, and self-consumption.

Another path towards sustainable power grids is the incorporation of distributed generation, which seeks to produce energy through small generation sources (microgeneration) installed near the final consumer so as not to depend on large power plants. This way, losses in the network and the discharge from the transport network are limited. 

The inclusion of micro-generators, such as solar photovoltaic panels, makes it easier for small sources of electricity generation to be distributed in cities, making them more self-sufficient.

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