• Vincent Petit


Electricity is a form of energy which has long been known. Early mention can be found in numerous texts from ancient Egypt which covered the power of electric eels. The effects of electricity started to be studied only at the beginning of the seventeenth century, by the English scientist William Gilbert, who actually gave electricity its name from the Greek word “elektron”, which meant amber. He indeed identified the effects of static electricity produced by rubbing amber. Later on, during the eighteenth century, Benjamin Franklin devoted significant resources to the study of static electricity. However, it was only in the late nineteenth century that this new form of energy took off as an energy source for industry. The first electrical distribution system was built by Thomas Edison in 1882 in New York near Pearl Street Station and distributed electricity to a small area of lower Manhattan (Institute for Energy Research 2014). A number of small systems then started to spread across the United States and Europe. They ran in isolation and provided electric power to factories and mansions. The development of alternative current (AC) eventually enabled transmission of power over long distances and interconnection between various sources of supply, making it possible to widely distribute electricity to households and consumers. Power distribution then started to expand throughout the world, propelling the second industrial revolution, and electricity progressively became a major source of energy supply.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vincent Petit
    • 1
  1. 1.Schneider ElectricHong KongHong Kong

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