Substations are the unsung heroes of the electricity grid. Electric substations are facilities that transform electricity into various forms for safe and effective transportation or distribution. But what exactly is a substation, and what does each type do? Below, we take a look at the different types of substations and the classification of substations.
Transmission substations either increase or decrease the voltage of transmissions. They are often located near power plants and we can categorize them by whether they step up or step down the voltage. We can also categorize them further on the voltages they can handle.
Step-up substations increase the voltage of electricity. This is ideal for sending electricity long distances through high-voltage transmission lines. Step-down substations decrease the voltage of electricity. This is perfect for transforming electricity so businesses and homes can use it.
Distribution substations distribute electricity to businesses and homes. They’re often located near population centers. These represent the last stop before electricity reaches its final destination in residential areas.
This makes distribution substations some of the most common you’ll encounter when going about your day-to-day life. You’ll even see attempts to blend these substations with local homes and businesses, or at least screen them from view.
Underground Distribution Substations
Underground distribution substations distribute electricity to businesses and homes, the same as other distribution substations.
They have many of the same components as above-ground substations, but they’re designed to hide belowground. This frees up the footprint they would take up for other uses. Substations are often large, so this is a big advantage when space is at a premium.
Industrial substations are used to distribute electricity to factories and other large industrial facilities. They have many of the same components as distribution substations, but they’re often larger because they need to accommodate the high demand for electricity from factories.
A collector substation is the functional opposite of a distribution station. It collects electricity from multiple substations and sends it elsewhere.
Collector substations are growing in number at the moment thanks to the uptake of eco-generation methods like wind and solar. A collector substation will collect power from distributed generation projects like these, ready to send elsewhere.
A mobile substation is a temporary substation that can be deployed to an area as needed. This type of substation is often used in emergency situations, such as after a natural disaster, where regular substations might have suffered damage or become isolated. Mobile substations are also used during construction projects, such as when a new power plant is being built.
Substations and Classification of Substations Explained
This isn’t an exhaustive list of all types of substations you’ll ever see, but these are the highlights of substations and the classification of substations that you need to know. That should give you some basic working knowledge of substations.