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Different Methods of Electric Power Generation

 We divide the power system into three parts; power generation, transmission, and distribution. In this article, we will discuss power generation. Actually, in power generation, one form of energy gets converted into electrical energy. We produce electrical energy from various natural sources.

Electricity generation


We classify these sources into two types of renewable sources and non-renewable sources. In the present power system, most of the electrical energy gets generated from non-renewable sources like coal, oil, and natural gases. But these sources are limitedly available. So, we have to use these sources carefully and always to find an alternate source or move on to renewable sources.

Renewable sources include solar, wind, water, tidal, and biomass. These sources are environment-friendly, free, and infinite resources available. Let us get more information about renewable sources.

Solar Energy System

It is the best alternative source for power generation. There are two ways, to generate electrical energy from sunlight.

  1. We can create electricity directly by using photovoltaic (PV) cells. The photovoltaic cell is made up of silicon. Many cells are connected in series or parallel to make a solar panel.
  2. We can produce heat (solar thermal) with the help of mirrors in the sunlight, and we use this heat to convert water into steam. This high-temperature steam rotates the turbines.

Advantages of Solar Energy System

  1. Transmission cost is zero for a stand-alone solar system.
  2. The solar electricity generation system is environment-friendly.
  3. The maintenance cost is low.
  4. It is an ideal source for remote locations that cannot link to the grid.

Disadvantages of Solar Energy System

  1. Initial expenses are high.
  2. Require large areas for bulk production.
  3. The solar electricity generation system is weather dependent.
  4. Solar energy storage (battery) is costly.

Wind Energy System

Wind turbines are used to convert wind energy into electrical energy. Wind flows due to temperature change in the atmosphere. Wind turbines turn wind energy into kinetic energy. The rotating kinetic energy rotates the induction generator, and that generator converts kinetic energy into electrical energy.

Advantages of Wind Energy System

  1. Wind energy is an unlimited, free, and clean source of energy.
  2. The operating cost is almost zero.
  3. A wind electricity generating system can generate power in a remote location.

The disadvantage of Wind Energy System

  1. It cannot produce the same amount of electricity all time.
  2. It needs a big open area.
  3. It makes noise.
  4. The construction process of a wind turbine is expensive.
  5. It gives lower electricity output.
  6. It poses threats from flying birds.

Hydro Energy System

The power obtained from a river or ocean water is called hydropower. Hydropower plants are works based on gravitational effects. Here we store water in a dam or reservoir. When we allow falling the water, the movement of this water as it flows downstream towards the penstock causes kinetic energy that rotates the turbines.

Advantages of Hydro Energy System

  1. It can be used in the service instantly.
  2. After this process, water can be used for irrigation and other purposes.
  3. Dams are designed for an extended period and so it can contribute to the generation of electrical energy for many years.
  4. Running and maintenance costs are low.
  5. No fuel transportation is required.

Disadvantages of Hydro Energy System

  1. The initial cost of a hydel power plant is high.
  2. Hydropower plants are located in the hilly area, and it is very far from the load. So, they require a long transmission line.
  3. Construction of dams can flood towns and cities.
  4. It is also weather dependent.

Coal Energy System

A thermal power plant produces electricity by burning coal in the boiler. Heat is used to convert water into steam. This high pressure and high-temperature steam flowing into the turbine spins a generator to produce electrical energy. After it passes through the turbine, the steam gets cooled in a condenser and reuse in the boiler to generate steam again. The thermal power plant works according to the Rankine cycle.

Advantages of Coal Energy System

  1. Coal is cheap.
  2. It has less initial cost compared to renewable power plants.
  3. It requires less space than a hydel plant.
  4. We can construct a thermal power plant at any place because coal can be transport to the plant irrespective of its location.
  5. Construction and commissioning of thermal power plants take lesser time than a hydel plant.

Disadvantages of Coal Energy System

  1. Coal is a non-renewable energy source.
  2. Operating costs high and variable according to the price of fuel.
  3. It pollutes the atmosphere due to smoke and fumes.
  4. It requires a huge quantity of water.

Nuclear Energy System

The working of nuclear power is almost the same as a thermal power plant. In a thermal power plant, coal is used in the boiler to produce heat. In a nuclear power plant, uranium is used in the nuclear reactor to generate heat. In both power plants, heat energy gets converted into electrical energy.

1kg of uranium can produce energy the same as the energy produced by burning of 4500 tonnes of coal or 2000 tonnes of oil.

Advantages of Nuclear Energy System

  1. It requires less space than a thermal power plant and a hydropower plant.
  2. It can produce an unusually high amount of electrical energy from a single plant.
  3. It does not emit CO2
  4. A nuclear power plant needs a small quantity of fuel.

Disadvantages of Nuclear Energy System

  1. It has a high initial construction cost.
  2. It has high operating and maintenance costs.
  3. It has radioactive waste.
  4. It has a high risk of radio-activity and explosion.

Installed Electric Capacity in India

Yearly gross electricity generation by source (GWh) (2016-2017)

Source Generation (GWh)
Coal 944,861
Oil 275
Gas 49,094
Diesel
Nuclear 37,916
Hydro 122,313
Mini-hydro 7,673
Solar 12,086
Wind 46,011
Biomass 14,159

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