Sustainable Living: 3M FuturewiseTown PlanIntroductionGo BackEnd of section: Go to Town view3M

Power station

Electricity distribution

You can't store electricity but you can store energy

Batteries (like the ones in cars, torches, cameras or laptops) all store energy in a chemical form. This chemical energy can then be converted to electricity when the device is switched on. Hydroelectric power stations (sometimes called HEPs) store energy as gravitational potential energy.

When power stations are generating more electricity than is required (e.g. the middle of the night), electricity in the national grid can be used to pump water uphill into a raised dam to give it gravitational potential energy. The gates can be shut so that water is stored in the dam.

When there is a sudden demand for electricity (e.g. when a popular TV programme has finished), the water in the dam can be allowed to fall through turbines, which turn generators to generate electricity.

Hydroelectric dams generate electricity without causing pollution. But building dams and flooding valleys to create reservoirs can affect the local environment and there are very few places in the world where a HEP can be built. The system is also a very inefficient use of electricity so it is only used when necessary.

Pages:  1 -  2 -  Back to Town view