It is a fascinating time for the industry of transmission and distribution. Since the discovery of electricity in the mid-1700s by Ben Franklin, people have used electricity in different ways and it remains one of the greatest discoveries of all time. Electricity could be used to power almost anything, and it allowed for so many future inventions. A few centuries later, electricity has become a necessity for most of the world. But as technology changes, what are some of the trends in the electrical transmission and distribution industry?

As with almost anything else, over time, technology improves. It is the same with transmission and distribution systems. Around half a century ago, the systems used were very different and those same systems now need to be upgraded. One example of this is transmission towers moving from overhead to underground systems. As people look for the most value in their homes, nobody wants a transmission tower looking over their backyard. In residential areas specifically, this switch is becoming much more widespread.

To remain updated and efficient, several other large changes have occurred over the past several decades. Natural gas has almost entirely replaced coal, mostly to comply with EPA regulations. Not only is natural gas much better than coal on the environment, but it is also cheaper. This is one of the ways utilities are looking to make their work more efficient.

Another change is the type of cable used to transmit and distribute power. In the old system, oil was used to insulate transmission cables. Now, cross-linked polyethylene insulation is being used to contain the electrical current. The benefits to using the cross-linked polyethylene is the improved longevity and minimal maintenance.

Perhaps the most eye-opening recent trend across transmission and distribution is utilities investing in storage. As the world begins to turn to new types of energy sources to become environmentally-friendly, utilities see batteries as a potential resource for electricity. To power large places and eventually cities, enormous batteries will be required and storing them somewhere safe will be important. This might be a long time away, but it is interesting to see how many companies are preparing for the possibility.

With times changing, not everything will always go smoothly. One article from T&D World explains how some Chicago residents experience transformer failures and lose electricity for periods of time. Not only can it be irritating for customers to lose electricity for periods of time, but it can also be unsafe. According to the data collected using Chicago’s systems, it was reported that about 2000 transformer systems fail each year (about 0.5% of transformers). Although the voltage used in residential areas is typically low, system failures can still be dangerous for its users.

Trends are never easy to predict and with electrical transmission and distribution work, it is not any easier. With that said, the demand for electricity is always the same and there is some consistency in that. The way electricity is brought to its users is what continues to change and over time that will continue to change again and again. Transmission and distribution work is still getting acquainted with the new recent changes and this makes for an interesting time in the field.


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Power & Utilities

Electrical Transmission

Electrical Distribution