There’s little to no doubt that electricity is an important part of our society. In fact, some would go as far as to compare its value to the food we eat and the water we drink. Others blame electricity and our dependence on it as the main source of environmental pollution. But no matter what side of the argument you find yourself supporting, no one can deny how useful electricity truly is. But since understanding how it all works can seem overwhelming, people tend to ignore the pros of electricity and focus on the negatives. Luckily, we are here today to lift the veil on electricity and answer the question of what is electrical energy?
What is Electrical Energy?
Electrical energy is energy caused by the movement of electrons which can power up electrical devices. In other words, electrical energy is a form of kinetic energy that appears as a result of moving electrical charges. The amount of electrical energy depends on how fast or slow the charges move through the circuit. To put it simply, the faster a charge moves, the more electrical energy it carries.
How Does it All Work?
To better understand the concept of electrical energy, we have to take a closer look at protons and electrons. The former are positively charged particles found in the nucleus of atoms, while the latter are negative particles that spin around the nucleus. Normally, electrons remain at a constant distance from the nucleus in precise shells, the closest to the nucleus having a strong force of attraction to the protons.
Electrons found in the shells near the edges of an atom have a weak attraction force. As a result, those electrons can leave their orbit when they receive enough force. When that happens, the free electrons will attach to the closest atom’s outer edge. That movement generates energy and is, in fact, what we refer to as electrical energy.
How Do We Generate Electrical Energy?
Since the basic concept of electrical energy is simple and involves electrons and protons, there are many ways to generate energy. On a smaller scale, rubbing a carpet using our feet can create a small amount of electrical energy. However, that is not enough to even power a light bulb, not even mentioning an entire household.
But on a larger scale, we have a variety of power plants and devices whose main purpose is to generate electricity for daily usage:
- Nuclear Power Plants: A nuclear power plant heats the water using nuclear fission, which involves the splitting of an atomic nucleus. The energy generated transforms water into steam, which then turns a turbine blade strapped to an electric generator.
- Hydroelectric Power Plant: In a hydroelectric power plant, falling water spins the turbine blades of a generator. Their movement creates a force strong enough to move electrons and generate electrical energy.
- Windmill: Windmills harness the power of the wind to turn generator turbine blades. Similar to water, the wind has more than enough force to accelerate the movement of electrons, generating electrical energy.
- Solar Panels: All solar panels are made up of photovoltaic cells, which capture photons from the sun. When one of those photons hits a solar cell, it knocks electrons from their atoms, generating electrical energy.
Overall, electrical energy is crucial to our daily lives, whether we notice it or not. From lighting our way in the dark using the press of a button to powering up our mobile devices, electricity is everywhere. Therefore, it is essential that we understand what is electrical energy and how it works. And while researching it can be hard and time-consuming, you can always come back and check our informative blog posts.