Directly from the electricity meter
What does the world need?
The world consumes a total of 16,330 billion kilowatt hours of electricity per year. Written out as a figure, that is 16,330,000,000,000 kilowatt hours of electricity.
High and low
Alternating voltages of up to 1,000 volts and direct voltages of up to 1,500 volts are known as low voltage. Anything higher than this is described as medium or high voltage. The highest direct voltage in actual use is currently 800,000 volts in a transmission system in China.
In favour of direct current
As a result of conversion loss, the efficiency of the German electricity grid has sunk to around 56%. A grid systematically configured to direct current would achieve an overall efficiency of 90%. With just a 10% increase in efficiency, the two largest brown coal power plants in Germany could be shut down. And this would save 63 million tonnes of CO2 – or 12% of all CO2 and 29% of nitric oxide emissions.
Edison in the red corner
Direct current heavyweight Thomas Edison managed to make his first home-made light bulb shine for 13-and-a-half hours. The life cycle was later extended by, among other things, replacing the carbon filament with a spiral-shaped tungsten filament.
Westinghouse in the blue corner
In the opposite corner, alternating current champion George Westinghouse was commissioned to illuminate the World’s Fair in Chicago. Nikola Tesla designed lighting equipment to run on alternating current, which lit up more than 200,000 light bulbs and left 30 million visitors stunned.
According to the Federal Statistical Office, prices in Germany increased by an average of 27% from 1999 to 2016. Within the same period, the price trend for electricity was way above average at 92%. However, dried vegetables came off even worse, with a 138% price increase.
Surfing on electricity
The average Google search uses 0.3 watt-hours, causing two grams of CO2 emissions. An eBay auction consumes much more: 18 grams of CO2.
Sitting on electricity
Most wires and cables that we come into contact with are safely insulated using rubber or plastic. So it would be logical to assume that overhead power-lines are also insulated – after all, birds can sit on them without getting injured. But this is not the case. The only reason why birds are not electrocuted here is because they are not touching the ground when they sit on the cable. So electricity does not flow through them.
In 2017, 17% of the global population still do not use electricity. In developing countries, the so-called electrification rate is 77%. Although 91% of the urban population have access to electricity, this figure is just 64% in rural areas.