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The multitude of devices that, unbeknownst to our eyes, act in our daily lives to ensure our electrical supply can be overwhelming when considered deeply. This set of elements is commonly referred to as electrical switchgear and constitutes a network of perfectly interconnected systems that are present in the journey of electrical energy from its generation, through its distribution, to its subsequent consumption at endpoints. However, despite its crucial role in making the miraculous mundane, we are not fully aware of what elements are part of this switchgear or how they interact with each other. Today, we aim to address this by explaining this and other aspects. Let’s dive into it.
As we were saying, the switchgear could be defined as the set of devices – with technological developments at different levels – that control, command, measure, protect, transform, and distribute electrical energy safely and efficiently. They ensure, through their specific roles, that our homes, workplaces, industries, critical infrastructures, transportation systems, or power generation plants can function normally. These unfamiliar elements, which can be installed either outdoors or indoors depending on their location and functions, are what ensure the electrification of society, further facilitating the integration of renewable energies in our fight against climate change. Behind every kilovolt powering our lights, operating our appliances, charging our electric vehicles, or preserving our food, lies a technological device making it possible.
These systems are spread far and wide across our landscapes: cables traversing our fields to carry energy to cities, substations dotting the outskirts of industries or towns, prefabricated concrete transformer stations above and below our sidewalks, low-voltage panels near our homes… In essence, an entire world of elements that collectively represent one of the greatest technological wonders of our time, enabling the second industrial revolution and shaping our current society.
We can divide electrical switchgear according to the following classifications:
Electric switchgear comprises an extensive variety of elements such as low-voltage panels, transformers, wiring, energy meters…
Let’s examine some of the most important ones:
Therefore, the design of the elements themselves and the configuration of the electric switchgear as a whole ensure reliable power supply.
In this regard, the present and future of switchgear revolve around ensuring its digitization and automation. Jose María Torres, director of Ormazabal’s Smart Grids division, defines this concept as “a primary objective to achieve the decarbonization goals set by the European Union.” Torres maintains that current geopolitical and exogenous factors “have accelerated the transformation of the electrical industry towards a world with greater integration of renewable generation and more sustainability.” This is an area where “the European Commission and the Spanish government, through the PNIEC, are aligned in seeking a global shift towards sustainability; an objective shared by companies in the electrical sector.”
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