What is Power Engineering?

Haven Esme

Power engineering is the conversion of energy into power. It is through this process that the world is able to have electricity and power. For centuries, engineers have been attempting to find innovative and cost effective ways to convert energy into power. For this reason, this field is something that will always be with the world.

Wind turbines can be used to produce electricity.
Wind turbines can be used to produce electricity.

Power engineering is simply a branch of engineering that deals with the distribution of electrical power, although the field also deals with other methods of energy such as hydropower. Not only does power engineering deal with distributing electricity but it is also used to create different devices that can be used to field and create more electricity. There are two specific sources of power and energy. The sources are called alternating current and the direct current.

Power engineering deals with the distribution of electrical power.
Power engineering deals with the distribution of electrical power.

An alternating current is an electrical charge that has the ability to reverse direction, while a direct current can only move in one way. Power engineering tries to understand how to manipulate these currents of energy and make them more efficient. Power engineers have a dangerous occupation because they often deal with high voltage systems and power lines that house dangerous levels of power.

A hydropower dam designed by a power engineer.
A hydropower dam designed by a power engineer.

One of the most interesting aspects of power engineering is the process of using other forms of energy to create electricity. Power engineers are discovering that other natural resources such as water, sun, and wind can all be used for power generation. These discoveries have caused the field of engineering to expand its branches so that each power source can receive its own special attention and study.

Another aspect of power engineering is the design and construction of electrical grids. These are often needed in urban development and they are vital to every country's infrastructure. The economic prosperity of a country is often evident in its infrastructure and the complexity of its electrical grid system.

Most countries have an electric power grid which is used to operate a network of electrical power lines. These lines are essential to the regular day-to-day activities many people take for granted. Many people do not even realize the importance of power engineering unless there is a disruption in electrical service. Not only do power engineers have the job of designing and constructing power grid systems, they also have the task of repairing, maintaining, and modernizing power plants. Power engineering works hand in hand with industrial facilities, government agencies, utility companies and environmental agencies to determine how power will be provided to people.

Power engineers directly deal with high-voltage systems and power lines.
Power engineers directly deal with high-voltage systems and power lines.

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Discussion Comments


@miriam98 - Sometimes you take for granted how important the power engineering technology behind the electrical grid system is, until you get a power outage.

I lived in Asia for four years, in a small town that was quite susceptible to electrical outages. Fortunately we lived a simple life while over there so it didn’t really inconvenience us too much.

What was worse was when I came to the United States, and I found myself getting outages in the area I lived in, sometimes several times a year. Now that was inconvenient!

They usually resolve the outage within a matter of hours but in worse case scenarios it might take a day or so, just enough time to let the meat in the refrigerator start to spoil.


I work for a software company that caters to the electrical utility industry, so I know a little about power engineering, although I am not an engineer myself.

Actually, I am glad that I am not out on the field as a technician because I don’t want to be exposed to the hazards of the job. I’ve seen pictures of substations that have exploded on fire because of a power surge that wasn’t properly handled by the existing fault equipment.

You definitely have to be on your toes and can’t be asleep at the wheel, so to speak. We usually work with relay technicians who are required to do testing on relay equipment. This is also known as protection equipment, which is supposed to trip whenever there is a power surge, so as not to cause spikes, outages or further damage.

Our software helps them run tests so it’s very much in demand in the industry.

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