The physics of electric power systems
ABB Switzerland, Corporate Research, CH-5405, Baden-Dättwil, Switzerland
The article describes electric power systems from a physicist’s point of view. In contrast to common introductory textbooks on power systems, the emphasis is on the physical design, that is the material selection and the choice of the geometrical shape, of the fundamental components as it follows from the function and serves the main purpose. Why do power system components look the way they look? This is the question addressed in an accessible way. Four fundamental components are needed to make the most elementary power system: overhead transmission lines, transformers, synchronous generators, and circuit breakers. High-voltage overhead lines make efficient long-distance transmission of electric power possible. Transformers step up the power from the generating plant and cascade it down to the final consumption. For their ability to control, independently, real and reactive power, synchronous generators are the most common type of generators. And it is only through the immediate extinction of plasma arcs in circuit breakers that shortcircuit currents can be interrupted and faulty segments of the grid disconnected.
© Owned by the authors, published by EDP Sciences - SIF 2013
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.