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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.

What is a Power Plant?

The definition of a power plant is that 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.

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 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 measures 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 demands.

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 Thermal Power Plant

A thermal power plant is a power station that generates electricity by converting heat energy. In a thermal power plant, heat can be produced by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, or natural gas. It can come from nuclear reactions in a nuclear power plant.

The heat energy is utilized to generate steam, which powers a turbine attached to a generator, resulting in electricity. After cooling the steam, usually in a cooling tower or by exchanging heat with a large body of water. The procedure is repeated.

After passing through the steam turbine, the steam is condensed in a condenser and it is redirected into the boiler.

Read full notes on: Thermal Power Plant

#2 Nuclear Power Plant

Nuclear power plants produce large amounts of electricity by the use of uranium as fuel and a nuclear fission reaction. These are often seen as more environmentally beneficial because they are low-carbon energy sources.

Nuclear power facilities are also thought to generate power more reliably compared to solar and wind power. Although keeping a nuclear power station online requires a large investment, the costs of operating it are very inexpensive.

Nuclear energy sources are also more compact than fossil fuels and produce a lot of energy. As a result, these plants consume little fuel yet generate a large amount of power, making them extremely efficient.

Read full notes on: Nuclear Power Plant

#3 Hydro Power Plant

In hydropower 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 that is clean, free from pollution, and has a good environmental effect.

It requires a large investment and involves the increased cost of power transmission. The main aim of the hydroelectric power plant is to harness power from water flowing under pressure. This power plant has a high useful life of about 100-125 years.

It requires low maintenance costs compared to the thermal power plant. It can be started quickly and synchronize the plant.

Read full notes on: Hydro Power Plant

#4 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.

Geothermal plants are classified into three types: dry steam power stations, flash steam power stations, and binary cycle power stations, all of which generate energy using steam turbines.

From just over 10 GW in 2010 to almost 14 GW in 2019, geothermal energy has steadily grown worldwide. Geothermal power facilities are more environmentally harmless than coal-fired power plants.

#5 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 environmental pollution.

Biogas can be produced through the breakdown of animal, plant, and human waste, containing 55–65% methane, 30–40% carbon dioxide, and other impurities such as H2,H2S, and some N2.

The fuel burns cleanly but slowly, with a calorific value of 38131 kJ/m3 or 5000-5500 kcal/kg (20935-20935 kJ/kg). Because it may be used for cooking immediately, it requires less firewood.

Furthermore, the substance used to produce biogas keeps its utility as fertilizer and can be returned to the soil.

#6 Biomass Power Plant

Biomass energy technology is one of the renewable energy sources that can be used today to provide power in rural areas. The term biomass refers to a renewable organic substance derived from plants and animals.

It consists of garbage (municipal solid waste), forestry and agricultural residues, animal and human waste, and waste from cities and industries.

With modern biomass technologies, biomass can be made into solid, liquid, or gaseous fuel more efficiently, despite its high moisture content and low calorific value.

#7 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 quantities. 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.

These 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 purposes.

Read full on: Diesel Power Plant

#8 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 weight.

Read full Notes on: Gas Turbine Plant

#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 through 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 that is capable of creating electricity or mechanical force. Windmills or wind turbines are 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

How to Select Location for Any Type of Power Plant?

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 coal is available in huge quantities and the surrounding is permitted against 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 nuclear disposal can be done very safely without creating pollution to the environment.

When the load is smaller the diesel power plant is preferred. If the wind energy is available in sufficiently hilly areas 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 labor, accessibility 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:

The following factors are 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 centers 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 labor.
  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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About 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 www.theengineerspost.com

2 thoughts on “12 Types of Power Plants: How they Work?”

    • Thanks for reading. I just updated the article with the PDF link, now you can download it.


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