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What is Electricity?

Updated: Oct 8, 2021

The flow of electric charge is referred to as Electricity. We refer to electricity as a secondary source of energy as it has to be obtained from other energy-producing primary sources ch as coal and petroleum. We cannot imagine a day in our lives without electricity and it has become an irreplaceable part of our lives just like air and water.

Electricity is used to power television, computers, and many other applications. Let us take a deeper and more scientific look into it.

A bulb lit using electricity

The science behind it!

An atom

Everything on Earth is made up of atoms. They are the building blocks of every single thing that exists and survives in the world. But when these atoms are further made up of smaller particles called protons, neutrons, and electrons.

Current is formed when electrons and protons are in motion which is created sure to electric and magnetic forces in atoms. Both electrons and protons carry an equal amount of charge with them; a negative and a positive one respectively.

Due to electrical and magnetic forces, these atoms are attracted to each other and their motion results in electricity.

Generation of Electricity

Gas turbine for electricity generation

Electricity is generated in power plants using primary sources such as coal, gas, hydropower, wind, etc. But keeping that aside, most of the generators work on one principle; rotating a turbine that is capable of spinning magnets surrounded by copper wire which can trigger the flow of current and thus generate electricity.

Gas and coal are used in a situation where they are burnt to boil water which liberates steam that is used to rotate turbines. But electricity generation is not limited to these; there is hydropower, wind power, etc, that is used to rotate turbines and generate electricity. Renewable sources of energy such as solar power are in great use these days, where photovoltaic panels convert energy from the sun into current using semi-conductors.

Let us give the sources and generation of electricity a deeper understanding.

1. Petroleum and Natural Gas: Petroleum and its by-products are very commonly used in power plants to make steam. But natural gas, can not just be burnt to boil water to generate steam, but can also be used to produce hot combustion gases that can rotate blades of the turbine to generate electricity.

2. Hydropower: The process of passing flowing water to spin turbines is referred to as hydropower. For this, water is stored in big dams and is made to fall from a great height creating high pressure which can rotate the blades of the turbine and thus generate electricity.

Dam for hydropwer generation

3. Solar power: The sun is a renewable source of energy and photovoltaic cells can be used to convert the energy from this source to generate electricity. But there are limitations to using solar power as it is not available all the time and is expensive.

Solar and Wind power

4. Wind power: This is the method of generating electricity by harnessing wind energy using windmills, storing the charge, and later supplying it to households.

How can electricity be measured?

You all might be aware of the fact that electricity is measuring in the units of watts, as a tribute to James Watt, who invented the steam engine. Households commonly use horsepower or kilowatt to measure electricity. One kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts. A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is the amount of power that is generated when one 1 kilowatt works for an hour.

Applications of electricity in daily life!

1. Household and Healthcare: Electricity plays a crucial role in everyday life and is used for operating modern technologies these days. In operation theatres and hospitals, there is a need for using powerful light during surgeries and it would be difficult to do such functionalities without electricity.

Household equipment such as refrigerator, microwave, electric chimney, washing machine, etc prove fatal without electricity and day-to-day activities will almost be impossible.

2. Electricity as fuel: Electricity can be considered as renewable energy and is used as an alternative to fossil fuels in cars, bikes, etc, which will be a great initiative for the future.

3. Electricity in Office and Commercial Spaces: Industries and factories have many types of equipment that run on electricity. In offices, every room has lights, fans, and air conditioning, scanners and computers which will turn out to be completely useless without electricity.

Electricity supplied using a power grid

The applications are not limited to these. Electricity plays a crucial role in engineering, transport, communication, entertainment, and many other fields and we can't imagine a life without the same.


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Anushka Gupta
Anushka Gupta
Jul 29, 2023

This blog by Learn Electronics India is a treasure trove of knowledge. I feel like I've learned so much about electricity in just one sitting. It's a must-read for anyone curious about the science that powers our world.


Short and effective! LearnElectronics India never disappoints.

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