Electrical energy is generated in power plants. The main sources for power plants are fossil fuels, nuclear power, and renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and water power. The main source of energy is still energy from fossil fuels. This is the energy of gas and oil. The shale revolution, which took place in the U.S. in the 2010s, has significantly increased domestic oil and gas production and ensured the energy independence of the United States.
The share of fossil fuels in U.S. primary energy production was 79%. This follows data released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy. Nuclear power accounted for 7% and renewable energy for 13%. Among fossil fuels, gas generates the largest amount of primary energy, 45% of all fossil fuels. Petroleum products account for 30% of all fossil fuels. Coal accounts for 15% of fossil fuels. Natural gas liquids account for the smallest share of 9% of fossil fuels.
The share of wind and solar energy in total primary energy production in the USA was 5.8%. Nuclear power has been at about the same level for about 20 years. The use of coal has been decreasing sharply for more than 10 years.
Green energy sources include wind farms, solar plants, hydroelectric power plants, as well as geothermal and biomass power plants. The use of renewable energy is evidence of the trend to phase out coal and switch to cleaner energy sources to combat climate change.
Historically, the main source of energy up to the middle of the 19th century was wood. But in the 1880s the first hydroelectric power plants appeared, and coal was used to produce electricity. It was the main source of electricity in the country until 2016, when the shale revolution in the U.S. resulted in plenty of cheap natural gas.
Many large companies in the U.S. are planning to switch completely to renewable energy sources. Amazon, a well-known company, plans to have all of its operations powered by renewable energy by 2025, and to be carbon neutral by 2040. Corporations are trying to match the general trend of technology companies developing projects related to renewable energy sources.
Long-distance transmission of electricity is accomplished by means of power lines that cover the entire country. Transmission lines transmit electricity at high voltages from power plants to electrical substations. High-voltage power lines are interconnected into one large grid.
Initially, the transmission and distribution of electricity was handled by the same companies. The liberalization and demonopolization of the U.S. electricity market has led to different companies being involved in transmission and distribution electricity.
Everyone at least once in their lives has seen tall steel towers with wires strung between them. These are high-voltage power lines. High voltage is used to reduce losses in transmitting energy. Low voltage is more convenient and is used to supply electricity to homes. Electric power transmission system, the crucial part between generating power plants and customers, is in need of upgrading and expansion.
Power distribution systems consist mainly of low-voltage transmission lines that receive power from substations. Substations receive power from distributed transmission networks via high-voltage lines. Millions of miles of power distribution lines supply tens of millions of consumers.
Now the electricity distribution system is separate from the transmission system, they are different business sectors. Unlike the transmission system, the distribution system has a radial structure. One substation supplies electricity to many customers. One customer usually receives electricity from only one substation.
Power distribution systems are more flexible than transmission systems, so the introduction of new technologies and upgrades to existing equipment is faster in this sector of the business.
The original transmission networks were not heavily regulated. But after a series of blackouts in the mid-1960s, the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) was founded. The organization was created to improve coordination and interoperability among the different electric grids and to raise standards in the industry.
NERC helped create standards in power generation and transmission. By analyzing disruptions in power generation and transmission, the organization has developed standards that have significantly improved and made power generation and transmission more stable.
In 2005, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) developed the Energy Policy Act, which is the main document regulating the generation and transmission of electricity at the federal level. In addition to regulation at the federal level, there are many regulatory documents at the local level to govern local electric grids in the United States.