Electricity is produced when water’s kinetic energy, the sun’s heat energy or nuclear energy from nuclear fuel fission is released. There are different kinds of energy sources and so are power plants. Know which power plant types are able to generate electricity that is being used in your home.
Energy is a vital requirement for modern man. It runs heaters and air conditioners and it also fuels vehicles. Man’s daily survival is now dependent on his energy requirements. Insufficient energy supply has the power to cripple economies. Notice how the strongest nations also have strong power generation industries.
There are many forms of energy and the most convenient, used by man each day, is electrical energy. This kind of power is not just easy to generate but there are also different ways of producing it.
Thermal Power Plant
This power plant generates electricity through heat. Heat is generated by burning fossil fuels such as natural gas, petroleum or coal. This kind of power plant is also referred to as fossil fueled power plants.
The earliest kind of fossil fueled power plant is the one that runs on coal. Even to this day, coal is still the most common fuel being used by thermal power stations. Heat that is generated by this kind of power plant turns the rotating machinery also known as the steam turbine. Thermal energy is then changed to mechanical energy. The turning turbines are connected to an alternator which then converts mechanical energy to usable electricity.
One of the main concerns for this power plant type is the disposal of ash or waste. Today, electric generators that run on biomass or biofuel are slowly being constructed.
Nuclear Power Plant
A nuclear power plant works on nuclear fission. This chemical process takes place in nuclear reactors which are then used to generate electricity. Fission is a kind of nuclear reaction wherein atoms (of certain elements) absorb free neutrons. They then split into two or more nuclei. Large amounts of energy is released during this process. Free neutrons then strike atoms of fissile materials, setting off a series of reactions. The energy that is released from the chain reaction is harnessed and electricity is then generated.
Danger comes with these chemical processes that happen inside nuclear power plants but there are ways to control such reactions. When they become threatening, the power plant has means to keep them bridled.
Nuclear fuels used these days are Plutonium-239 or Uranium-235, each releases energy that is millions of times more powerful than traditional fuel. Advance technology is required in running this kind of power plant since it has to protect itself from terrorist attacks, fire or explosives, as well as the management of used fuel. The operating cost can get too high because of the advanced kind of technology that is required to run the power plant.
Hydro Power Plant
This power plant uses kinetic energy from flowing water to create electrical energy. Large amounts of water is stored inside huge reservoirs. These reservoirs then flow to the dam and rotate turbines. As the blades turn, the magnets in the generators also turn. Every rotation produces electricity which can power homes and businesses.
At present, there are more than 2,000 hydro power plants in the nation.
Solar Power Plant
One of the most abundant natural resources today is solar energy. It is capable of producing more power than the demand dictates. Majority of solar power plants use concentrated beams using mirrors and lenses. There are also photovoltaic plants which collect the energy on photovoltaic surfaces. There are other power plant types such as geothermal energy power plants which also use renewable energy. Man has truly come a long way since he first discovered electricity.