What is the primary distribution grid and what elements are part of it?

Primary distribution switchgears

Primary distribution is one of the two phases of energy distribution, but do you know what it is and how it works?

As commonplace as using electrical energy for cooking or working may seem, it involves an incredible effort in terms of infrastructure and engineering. Ensuring that we can use electricity without any setbacks requires an efficient and stable electrical grid that allows us to harness every generated kilowatt. This is why numerous elements – mostly unknown to us – and agents work together to ensure its proper performance. Today, we’ll focus on those that are part of the primary distribution grid. Let’s dive in.

The journey of electricity to our homes can be divided into three main phases: generation, transmission, and distribution. Thus, how electricity flows through the grid in each phase is determined by how energy is generated, how it needs to be transported to reduce losses, and how it is distributed according to needs for subsequent consumption. Various electrical equipment elements are placed at each phase and configuration of this intricate system. The placement of each of these elements in the grid is not random but responds to technical requirements that ensure stable and secure electricity in our homes, as well as the most efficient use of energy.

Focusing on our main phase, distribution, we can distinguish two main stages to differentiate its typology:

  • 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 such as industry.
  • Secondary distribution grid: This stage of the electrical distribution system adjusts the voltage values of the energy for safe and efficient delivery to consumption points like our homes, offices, hospitals, etc. It is based on the work of medium-voltage transformation centers, which adapt the energy voltage for its passage to low voltage and subsequent consumption by the end-user.
The primary distrbution grid is part of the complex trip of the elecricity

The primary grid and its main elements

Considering that primary distribution could be defined as the initial phase of the electricity journey, once it has been transformed from high to medium voltage, the main actors involved are as follows:

  • Power cables: These are the main transport arteries for electrical energy within the primary distribution grid. Despite appearing to be simple cables, they are designed to withstand significant electrical currents, reducing losses and prioritizing safety. They are also protected by devices against overloads and short circuits, as well as connected to grid measurement and monitoring devices for proper management and tracking.
  • Transformation centers: These centers act as major controllers and distributors of energy in the complex grid. Located at the exits of substations towards our electrical grids, the transformation centers distribute and allocate electrical energy to consumption zones thanks to sophisticated grid protection and automation systems. For this purpose, they aggregate some of the key elements in the secondary distribution grid, such as:
  • Electrical transformer: This is the main component of the transformation center and is an electrical device that allows increasing or decreasing the voltage of an electrical circuit for subsequent distribution.
  • Primary distribution switchgears: The switchgear– which embodies the complexity and technological development of the center – is used for various functions according to its type but could be seen as a large switch that interrupts or allows the flow of electrical energy. Technological developments have been fundamental in obtaining a solution that allows operating the grid at medium voltage values safely for operators and the grid under adverse conditions.
The sbp.zero24 switchgear is one of the most important innovation related to f-gas free switchgears for primary distribution
  • Protection, control, and automation units: These elements are one of the main revolutions of the medium-voltage grid in recent years. Their functions, ranging from remote control of switchgears and medium-voltage transformers to generating reports and diagnostics to automation, have made them key allies in the grid´s smartization.

Ormazabal, experts in primary distribution electrical solutions

At Ormazabal, we work to transform the electrical grid into a future-oriented infrastructure: more reliable, resilient, and sustainable. Thus, with over 55 years of experience in designing and manufacturing electrical solutions for primary distribution aimed at digitizing the electrical grid to integrate more renewable energy generation, enable more sustainable mobility, and ensure electrical supply to buildings and infrastructures with critical energy needs.

As part of our route to zero, we have launched our innovative ranges of products free of fluorinated gases, based on industrial natural air insulation, for the public distribution market up to 24 kV sbp.zero24. The most comprehensive alternative solution to SF6 insulation on the market that guarantees zero changes, zero uncertainties, and a more sustainable electrical grid.

Want to know more? Contact with us and discover all the details:

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

    +34 94 431 77 77