Many of us take it for granted that when we flick the switch, the light comes on, and when we turn up our gas oven jets we instantly have flames for cooking.
The process to transfer electricity and gas from its origin to the end user can be complex to understand, however. Here is a simple explanation of the end-to-end supply chains for electricity and gas.
- Generators produce electricity from a range of sources, including coal, solar, water, wind, biomass, and geo-thermal.
- Generator transformers then convert low-voltage electricity to high voltage for efficient transport.
- Transmission lines carry the electricity long distances – these are the big power pylons and lines that you might have seen.
- Some large industrial customers take electricity direct from the transmission lines.
- For all other customers, the electricity goes to local transformers, where distribution businesses convert the high-voltage electricity back to a low voltage for distribution via the poles and wires you see on a typical suburban street.
- These poles and wires carry the electricity to customers in homes, offices, and factories. Some homes and businesses also have solar panels and and/or battery storage systems to generate and store their own electricity.
- Gas is sourced from gas fields – oil and gas wells or coal seam gas wells – and processed to specification. This includes adding odour and compressing the gas for transport.
- Some gas is used at this stage for gas powered generation (GPG), or stored in large facilities for later use.
- The rest is sent long distances through large transmission pipes to what is known as a 'city gate'. When the gas runs through the city gate, it is reduced to a lower pressure, suitable for distribution through a smaller network of pipes to residential, commercial, and small industrial customers.