# Describe the National Grid

In this worksheet, students will learn how electricity is generated in power stations and about its distribution through the National Grid.

Key stage:  KS 4

Difficulty level:

### QUESTION 1 of 10

Ever wondered about how the electricity you are using is made?

The National Grid distributes electricity around the United Kingdom as high as 400,000 volts (or 400 kV). High voltage means that less energy is lost, distribution costs are less and electricity is cheaper for consumers. Transformers used in the National Grid reduce or increase the voltage. Large industries use 33 kV electricity; hospitals, schools and smaller industries use electricity at 11 kV; and houses, shops and farms at 240 V. Some of the energy is lost as heat to the environment. The diagram below shows National Grid pylons:

Electricity is produced at power stations. The diagram below shows what happens in different parts of a power station. Coal burns in the furnace and heats water to produce steam in the boiler. The steam turns the turbine under high pressure and the generator generates electricity. Eventually, a transformer changes the voltage so that electricity can be distributed through the National Grid.

Now it's your turn to think about how electricity is generated and distributed.

Through what is electricity distributed around the UK?

What is the voltage of electricity produced in a power station in kV?

400,000 kV

4,000 kV

400 kV

What voltage is used in houses in the UK?

11 kV

33 kV

230 V

What do transformers do?

They generate electricity

They step-up (increase) or step-down (decrease) the voltage

They distribute electricity

Why is high voltage useful?

It reduces energy loss

It reduces the time taken to generate electricity

It is less dangerous

It reduces distribution costs

It ensures that electricity is cheaper for consumption

Where is coal burned in a power station?

In the furnace

In the turbine

In the generator

Why is there a boiler in a power station?

It transforms the voltage

It generates electricity

Steam that turns the turbine is produced in the boiler

Where does the energy needed to produce steam in the boiler come from?

From the turbine

From the furnace where coal is burned

From the generator

What does the generator do in a power station?

It decreases energy loss

It turns the turbine

It makes electricity

What happens to the electricity after the step-down transformer?

It is distributed to consumers

It has its voltage changed

It is lost to the environment

• Question 1

Through what is electricity distributed around the UK?

National Grid
The National Grid
EDDIE SAYS
Hopefully, this was a fairly gentle start to this activity. If you had trouble answering this one, why not go back and re-read the Introduction before moving on to the next question. Electricity is distributed around the UK through the National Grid. Note the use of capital letters for both words because it is a name.
• Question 2

What is the voltage of electricity produced in a power station in kV?

400 kV
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do with this one - lots of fours and zeros but only one correct answer! Electricity is produced in a power station at 400 kV. This is the same as 400,000 V (volts). It is so high because this makes it more efficient to move the electricity around.
• Question 3

What voltage is used in houses in the UK?

230 V
EDDIE SAYS
Great stuff, you're zipping through this activity! Houses in the UK use electricity at 230 V. 'V' for voltage must always be written in capitals.
• Question 4

What do transformers do?

They step-up (increase) or step-down (decrease) the voltage
EDDIE SAYS
Now don't get distracted by the thought of robots changing into different machines - we're talking about a different sort of transformer here! Transformers step-up (increase) or step-down (decrease) the voltage. They will step-up the voltage when it is travelling through the high tension wires and step-down the voltage again before it reaches your house.
• Question 5

Why is high voltage useful?

It reduces energy loss
It reduces distribution costs
It ensures that electricity is cheaper for consumption
EDDIE SAYS
This time there were three correct answers to tick - did you get them all? High voltage reduces energy loss, reduces distribution costs and ensures that electricity is cheaper for consumers. Less energy loss means that less fuel is needed to make the electricity - this, in turn, lowers the price of the electricity.
• Question 6

Where is coal burned in a power station?

In the furnace
EDDIE SAYS
Coal is burned in the furnace of a power station. It is used to heat up water to make steam. The steam is then used to drive the turbines.
• Question 7

Why is there a boiler in a power station?

Steam that turns the turbine is produced in the boiler
EDDIE SAYS
When water boils, it produces steam - a little clue here to the use of the 'boiler', if you needed one! The boiler in the power station is necessary because it produces the steam that is used to turn the turbine. Steam is the most effective way of doing this as it is the most efficient (up to 50%).
• Question 8

Where does the energy needed to produce steam in the boiler come from?

From the furnace where coal is burned
EDDIE SAYS
The energy that is needed to produce the steam (which then turns the turbine) comes from the furnace. This can be from burning coal, oil, gas, biomass or even nuclear fuel. They all work the same way, as does 90% of our energy generation.
• Question 9

What does the generator do in a power station?

It makes electricity
EDDIE SAYS
The generator makes electricity by spinning magnets in a coil of wire. We will look at this in more depth in a later activity. You've nearly completed this activity!
• Question 10

What happens to the electricity after the step-down transformer?

It is distributed to consumers
EDDIE SAYS
Phew - you're at the end of this activity! After the transformer, electricity is distributed to consumers through the National Grid. Option one is the correct answer but there is some truth to option two (it has its voltage changed) because it may need to be 'transformed' again depending on who it will go to. The important thing to look at here is if it is a step-up or a step-down transformer. Believe it or not, step-up makes the voltage go up, and step-down makes the voltage go down! Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of where our electricity comes from. It's so easy to take it for granted but we can't do without it - just try to manage for a short time when there's a power cut and you'll realise just how much of our everyday lives depend on a ready supply of electricity. Well done for completing another activity!
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