Types of electrical distribution and their differences

Types of electrical distribution and their differences

Electrical distribution is one of the main phases in the journey of energy from generation to consumption

Behind everyday actions like charging our mobile phones, electric vehicles, or powering our refrigerators to preserve our food lies a complex grid of elements forming what we know as the electrical grid. This grid ensures that all electrical appliances function properly. It comprises different phases that are easily recognizable and can be identified in three main blocks: energy generation, its transportation, and, finally, electrical power distribution. While the first two might be more familiar to us – many of us have seen a wind farm, a hydroelectric plant, or a high-voltage grud- the role of the distribution grid is less visible and known. Today, we are going to shed light on this phase of the electricity journey. Will you join us?

As we mentioned, electrical power must travel from the points of generation – commonly located far from consumption areas – in high voltage, to then be transformed at electrical substations to medium voltage for industrial or domestic use.

The distribution of electrical power has undergone a revolution with the advent of electric vehicles and the need for a wide charging grid.
The distribution of electrical power has undergone a revolution with the advent of electric vehicles and the need for a wide charging grid.

Once the electrical power is adapted to safe voltage values for transit around consumption points, it enters the distribution phase, which brings the energy closer to consumers through a vast interconnection of grid until it reaches the electrical meter before its use.

For this purpose, electricity distribution is carried out in what is known in the sector as the “ring grid.” These are large rings formed by circuits and transformation, connection, or sectionalizing centers (as prominent elements of switchgear) that surround major consumption centers. This setup ensures that if there is a service drop due to an exceptional situation in the grid, the service can be resumed by the switchgear located parallel to the affected one. This guarantees optimal service for consumers.

Overall, we can divide electrical power distribution into two main phases to differentiate their types:

  • Primary distribution grid: This is the stage of electricity distribution where energy reaches substations to be transformed and distributed at medium voltage to the next phase of the grid or for direct consumption by electro-intensive consumers like industries.
  • Secondary distribution grid: This is the stage of the electrical power distribution system where the voltage values of the energy are adapted for safe and efficient proximity to consumption points such as our homes, offices, hospitals, etc. It relies on the work of medium voltage transformation centers, which adapt the voltage for its passage to low voltage and subsequent consumption by the final user.

This method achieves a safe and sustainable electrical distribution, the foundation for meeting various energy demands, helping to make our lives easier.

Main components of electrical switchgear for distribution

Now that we understand what the distribution grid is and how it works, it’s time to learn more about the main components that ensure the grid operates correctly.

  • Power Cables: These are the main arteries for transporting electrical energy within the primary distribution grid. Despite appearing to be simple cables, they are designed to withstand significant electrical currents and transmit power to other equipment safely under conditions of humidity and high temperatures.
The transformation substation is a crucial element for the correct functioning of the grid, as it transforms and distributes energy to end users.
The transformation substation is a crucial element for the correct functioning of the grid, as it transforms and distributes energy to end users.

  • Transformer substations: These centers act as large controllers and distributors of energy in the vast labyrinth of the grid. Located at the outputs of substations towards our electrical grids, CTs (their abbreviation) distribute and allocate electrical energy across consumption zones thanks to sophisticated grid protection and automation systems. They incorporate key elements in the secondary distribution grid, such as:
  • Transformers: The main component of the CT, it is an electrical device that increases or decreases the voltage of an electrical circuit for subsequent distribution.
  • Primary and secondary distribution switchgears: The switchgear, which represents the complexity and technological development of the center, is used for various functions depending on its type, essentially acting as a large switch that cuts or lets electrical energy flow. Technological advancements have provided a solution that allows the grid to operate at medium voltage values with complete safety for the operator and the grid under the most adverse conditions.
  • Protection, control, and automation units: These elements are among the main revolutions in the medium voltage grid in recent years. Their functions, from remote control of switchgear and medium voltage transformers to reporting and diagnostics, and their automation, have endowed the grid with intelligence, making these a key ally in the smartification of the grid.
  • Low Voltage switchgears: Although technically a low voltage component, it is responsible for dividing the current to be safely transported directly to consumption points. Thus, the low voltage switchgear distributes and protects the energy towards our homes.

Ormazabal: Experts in medium voltage distribution solutions

At Ormazabal, we work to transform the electrical grid into a future-proof infrastructure: more reliable, resilient, and sustainable. With over 55 years of experience in designing and manufacturing electrical distribution solutions, we aim to digitize the electrical grid to integrate more renewable energy generation, enable more sustainable mobility, and ensure power supply to buildings and infrastructures with critical energy needs.

As part of our route to zero, we have launched our innovative ranges of fluorinated gas-free products, based on industrial natural air insulation, for the primary and secondary distribution market up to 24 kV: cgm.zero24 and sbp.zero24. This is the most comprehensive alternative solution to SF6 insulation on the market, guaranteeing zero changes, zero uncertainties, and a more sustainable electrical grid.

Want to know more? Contact us for details:

    Parque Científico y Tecnológico de Bizkaia, Edf. 614, Astondo Bidea,48160, Derio (Bizkaia) España

    +34 94 431 77 77