HomePower Plant12 Types of Power Plants: How they Work?

12 Types of Power Plants: How they Work?

In this article, you’ll learn what is Power plants how they work? and different types of power plants. And also you can download the PDF file of this post at the end.

Power Plant

Energy provides the power to progress.

The natural resources of a country may be big but they can only be turned into wealth if they are developed, adopted, and exchanged for the other goods. This cannot be achieved without energy.

The availability of enough energy and its proper use in any country can result in its people rising from the capital level to the highest standard of living.

types of power plants

The development of the power generation industry is a sign of growing gross national products which reflects the prosperity of the people. The lack of it and insufficient measure can throttle the whole economic activity and well being of the country.

Continuous efforts have been made to develop the power plants in a country in different sections such as hydro, thermal, nuclear, solar, wind and tidal to meet the present as well as future power demand.

What is the Power Plant?

The definition of a power plant is, It is a system where electric power is generated by using energy resources such as solid fuels, liquid fuels, natural gas, hydro, nuclear, solar, wind, tidal, etc.

Sources of Energy:

Generally, we can find the following sources of energy:

  1. Solid fuels
  2. Liquid fuels
  3. Natural gas
  4. Hydropower
  5. Nuclear power
  6. Solar power
  7. Wind power
  8. Tidal power
  9. Geothermal energy
  10. Hydrogen energy
  11. Biomass energy
  12. Wave energy.

Types of Power Plants:

Different types of power plants can be classified in the following ways:

  1. According to the nature of the load:
    1. Baseload power plant
    2. Peak load power plant
  2. According to the fuel used:
    1. Hydropower plant
    2. Steam power plant
      1. Condensing power plant
      2. Non-condensing power plant
    3. Diesel power plant
    4. Nuclear power plant
    5. Gas-turbine power plant
  3. According to the non-conventional power generation:
    1. Geothermal power plant
    2. Tidal power plant
    3. Solar power plant
    4. Wind power plant
    5. Biogas power plant
  4. According to the service:
    1. Fixed power plant
    2. Mobile power plant

1. Base Load Plant

This is the power plant which works individually and supplies the power to the whole load. This type of plant takes the load on the base portion of the load curve. The load on the plant remains more or less constant throughout the operation period. Baseload plants are large in capacity. The load factor of these types of power plants is high.

2. Peak Load Plant

The peak load plants are designed for taking care of the peak load of the demand curve. These plants supply the power to the load premises when there is a peak load period only. Rest of the time the power is supplied by main plants. In these types of power plants, the main power plant is always required and hydropower plant works as secondary plant and shares the load of two to three hours.

3. Hydro Power Plant

In hydro-power plants, the energy of water is used to move the turbines which in turn run the electric generators. The energy of water used for power generation may be kinetic or potential. Hydro-power is a conventional renewable source of energy which is clean, free from pollution and has a good environmental effect.

It requires a large investment and involves increased cost of power transmission. The main aim of the hydro-electric power plant is to harnessing power from water flowing under pressure. This power plant has a high useful life of about 100-125 years. It requires low maintenance cost compared to the thermal power plant. It can be started quickly and synchronize the plant.

Read full notes on: Hydro Power Plant

4. Steam Power Plant

The steam power plant is also known as a thermal power plant. In which the heat energy is converted into electrical power with the help of a steam turbine. The water is heated, converted into steam and rotates a steam turbine which operates an electric generator.

The fuel cost of the thermal power plant is relatively low. The heat production system is very simple compared to the other system. We can produce thermal energy almost everywhere in the world. These are located in a place where the movement of people is minimum.

Read full about: Thermal Power Plant

5. Diesel Power Plant

The diesel power plants are placed where the supply of coal and water is not available. Or where power is to be generated in small quantity. Or where standby sets are required for continuity of supply such as hospitals, telephone exchanges etc. These plants in the range of 2 to 50 MW capacity are used as central stations for small supply authorities and works.

The design and installation are very simple of these plants. It occupies less space compared to other power plants. This plants can be easily started and put on a load quickly. There is no problem with ash handling. It requires less quantity of water for cooling purpose.

Read full on: Diesel Power Plant

6. Nuclear Power Plant

A nuclear power plant is a thermal power station in which the heat source is a nuclear reactor. As in one of the thermal power stations, heat is used to produces steam that drives a steam turbine attached to a generator that generates electricity.

Read full notes on: Nuclear Power Plant

7. Gas Turbine Plant

The gas turbine is the most satisfactory power developing unit among various means of generating mechanical power. It is done due to its excellent reliability, freedom from vibration, and capability to produce large power from units of small size and weights.

Read full Notes on: Gas Turbine Plant

8. Geothermal Power Plant

The geothermal power plants are related to other steam turbine thermal power plants. In this heat from the fuel source is used to heat water or any other working fluid. The working fluid is then used to rotate on the turbine of a generator, for producing electricity.

9. Tidal Power Plant

Tidal power or tidal energy is a form of hydropower that converts energy derived from tides primarily into useful forms of electricity. Although not yet generally used, tidal energy has the potential to generate future electricity.

10. Solar Power Plant

A solar power plant is based on the conversion of sunlight into electricity either directly photovoltaics or indirectly using concentrated solar power. Concentrated solar power systems use lenses, mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam.

Read full notes on: Solar Power Plant

11. Wind Power Plant

Wind power is a natural form of energy which is capable of creating electricity or mechanical force. Windmills or wind turbine are the devices that are capable of turning the kinetic energy of the wind into mechanical energy. This mechanical energy is further transformed into electric energy.

Read full notes on: Wind Power Plant

12. Biogas Power Plant

A biogas plant is a decentralized energy system, which can lead to self-sufficiency in heat and electricity needs, and at the same time decrease the environmental pollutions.

How to Select Location for Any Type of Power Plants:

Following factors are generally considered for the location of any types of power plants:

  1. Easy access to the site.
  2. Availability of resources such as water, coal, natural gas, diesel, solar, wind etc.
  3. Quality of air and air space restrictions.
  4. Availability of storage space for the resources with sufficient quantity.
  5. Size of the plant, availability of land and nature of the land.
  6. Geological investigations should be done for a longer life for the plant, site expandability for future development, etc.
  7. Water discharge, ash disposal, nuclear waste disposal facilities.
  8. Availability of transportation facilities.
  9. Availability of labour: Plenty of skilled labours with cheap rate should be available.
  10. Type of community and public attitude.
  11. Economic impacts such as local tax, transmission and distribution,
  12. Effects of pollution.
  13. Sedimentation effects.
  14. Solid waste management.
  15. Public health and safety concerns.
  16. Future development.

Reasons for Considering the Various Factors:

  1. The site should be easily accessible by the road, rail, water or air for transportation
  2. For the smooth and continuous operation of the power plant, the plant should be located nearer to the resources such as water, coal, natural gas etc.
  3. To provide good working conditions, the quality of air should be good in the power plant. There should not be any air space restrictions.
  4. There should be enough storage space for the resources to meet any type of demand.
  5. Sufficient land in a less cost should be available to construct any size and type of plant. The nature of land should be according to the plant requirement.
  6. There should be proper disposal place to avoid surrounding pollution of air, water and land.
  7. There should be a proper means of transportation at the cheapest rate to reduce transportation cost.
  8. Skilled labours should be available to run the plant comfortably and to avoid labour turnover.
  9. There should be a working community and industrial culture for healthy running of the plant.
  10. It should be less local cost, transmission and distribution to have significant tariff for charging the electricity.
  11. There should not be any effects of pollution to have a good working environment.

Choice of Power Plant:

The choice of a particular power plant mainly depends upon the availability of a source of energy. If the water is available with sufficient head then the hydropower plant is going to be selected. When the coal is available in huge quantity and surrounding is permitting against the pollution, then the thermal power plant is suitable.

The nuclear power plant can be selected to set up near the sea, river, lake, etc. So that the nuclear disposal can be done very safely without creating pollution to the environment.

When the load is smaller than the diesel power plant is preferred. If the wind energy is available with sufficient hilly area then the wind power plant is preferred. With the availability of solar energy, the solar power plant can be preferred. The choice of a power plant further depends upon the availability of labour, accessibility and transmission cost, etc.

While choosing the type of power plant following points are considered:

  1. The type of fuel available or availability of suitable sites for water power generation.
  2. Fuel transportation cost.
  3. Land required.
  4. Foundation cost.
  5. The availability of cooling water.
  6. The type of load to be taken by the power plant.
  7. Reliability in operation.
  8. Plantlife.
  9. Cost of transmitting energy.

How to Make Selection of Site for the Power Plant:

Following factors to be considered for the selection of the site for the power plant:

  1. The required size of the plant
  2. Availability of sufficient quantity of water nearer to the site.
  3. Easy access to the site
  4. Low cost of land and low taxes on-land.
  5. Availability of land for storage and future expansion
  6. Nearness to the load centres to reduce the transmission cost.
  7. Availability of water discharge, ash disposal and nuclear waste disposal facilities.
  8. Nearness to the energy resources.
  9. Availability of labour.
  10. Availability of transport facilities, such as road, rail, air and water transport.
  11. Subsoil condition of the site for a better foundation.
  12. The site should be away from a populated area.
  13. Environmental impact assessment
  14. Study of wind direction and speed humidity and temperature at the site.

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Saif M
Saif M. is a Mechanical Engineer by profession. He completed his engineering studies in 2014 and is currently working in a large firm as Mechanical Engineer. He is also an author and editor at theengineerspost.com