Point of interest

Who invented the transmission of electrical power?
(by Kresimir Bakic)

It teaches us famous Professor of Physics at the Graz University of Technology in the late 19th century, dr. Simon Subic, in an article entitled “On the transfer of operating forces with electricity”, published in year 1900 in the magazine “Home and the World”, no. 12, published by the Catholic Press Association.

That’s as it says Subic, attaches Frenchman Hippolyte Fontaine (1833-1910), who was assistant engineer of the famous Belgian inventor Zenobe Gramme (note: Dynamo invented by Gramme has been improved Siemens’s dynamo from 1866 and the first in the world to provide a higher voltage and more stable direct current). At the World’s Fair of 1873 in Vienna H. Fontaine wanted to show visitors how a water pump could operate powered by an electromagnetic machine using DC electricity produced by new invented Dynamo. His intention was to trade with dynamo machines. In the beginning water pump didn’t work properly. From neighboring exhibitors than he borrowed missing copper wire (it was approx. 2 km long), connected dynamo with DC motor nearby to the water pump, and finally the pump started working properly. After this experiment, said Fontaine, he got an idea how mechanical power could be transmitted to distant places by electricity. He wrote an article about it in a French newspaper. Fontaine’s idea was first used by the French factory-owners Felix and Chretien in 1878, at its factory for sugar in Sermaizeu. Since the processing of sugar beet is seasonal work and except for one month in the rest of the year their steam machines usually stay unproductive. So, they decided to use its steam engines for useful work, for transfer of electrical power from factory halls to plowing fields. At a steam machine they installed dynamo to produce DC electricity and used flexible cable at a distance of 800 m (from the factory to the fields) to transmit power to the DC motor, which was specially developed for the plow plowing. This was actually the transmission of electrical power into the electric plowing in France, in 1878. That example found many imitators in France and elsewhere, in particular because of the economic efficiency.

Fontaine was also the organizer of the First World Electrotechnical Exhibition in Paris in 1881. As a pioneer of electrical science, France awarded him the Legion of Honour, a high recognition.

Papers on national conferences CIGRÉ and CIRED

Slovenian National Committees CIGRÉ and CIRED organize biennial conferences from 1993 on, dealing with electric power System issues. Between 1993 and 1999 all activities were covered inside CIGRÉ. In 1999 during CIRED conference in Nice (France), Slovenia associated this international organization too. From the year 2001, national conferences are separated in CIGRÉ and CIRED groups. Each group prepares its own preferential subjects, papers and discussions. Interest for CIGRÉ and CIRED sessions is always huge. Every two years in May more than 500 engineers and experts in power engineering meet each other and exchange information and knowledge. During every conference a respectable exhibition takes place with more than 40 exhibitors. For national committee members more than 1700 papers, books and documents from conferences are available online free of charge.

Table with statistical overview of presented papers:

Conference Year CIGRE papers CIRED papers Total papers
1. Ljubljana 1993 83 83
2. Maribor 1995 90 90
3. N. Gorica 1997 122 122
4. Rogaška 1999 118 118
5. Bled 2001 108 25 133
6. Portorož 2003 121 64 185
7. Velenje 2005 136 58 194
8. Čatež 2007 122 63 185
9. Kr. Gora 2009 108 62 170
10. Ljubljana 2011 141 54 195
11. Laško 2013 184 65 248
12. Portorož 2015
13. Maribor
 149  59  208
14. Laško 2019 131 53 184

prof. dr. Simon Šubic (1830-1903)

Francois-Hippolyte Fontaine