Although energy comes in various forms, electrical energy is one of the most convenient forms of energy. It can be generated in numerous ways and easily transported. Moreover, it can be flexibly converted into heat energy or mechanical work whenever necessary.
Energy or power is frequently produced in a power plant. We all are familiar with the famous phrase ‘Energy cannot be created or destroyed but merely changed from one form to another.’ So, basically, in any power plant, one form of energy is converted to some other form. The type of energy obtained after a series of power plant operations depends upon the kind of power plant.
A Power plant consists of a sequence of operations. Fuel is fed from one end, and electricity zaps out from the other end. If you’re intrigued to know what happens in between these start and endpoints, here’s a brief description of different steps:
The energy that we receive to run our appliances such as toaster, computer, or TV starts as a raw fuel, fed into a power plant. Many of such power plants utilize natural gas, oil, or methane gas, while others operate on coal.
A giant furnace is used to burn the fuel and capture the heat energy from the raw fuel.
The heat from the furnace is transferred to the boiler and made to flow through pipes, which is full of cold water. The heat at high temperature boils the water and turns it into steam.
The steam generated in the boiler is then sent to a turbine at high-pressure. A turbine can be understood as a windmill with tightly packed metal blades. Steam passing at high pressure turns the blades, converting steams energy into kinetic energy. After losing its energy, steam leaves the turbine at low pressure and temperature.
Most of us picture cooling towers aa giant jug shaped towers. They possess the capability to increase the efficiency of the turbine. The boiling hot water from the steam turbine is cooled in a heat exchanger (condenser). Then it’s sprayed into the cooling tower to pump it back for reuse. Most of the water gets condensed on the walls of the tower and drips back down.
A turbine in any power plant is connected to a generator via an axle. It’s joined so that the generator may also spin along with turbine blades. The generator utilizes Kinetic Energy from the turbine to produce electricity.
Now, since the electricity is being generated, how will you collect and transfer it? Cables are used to transfer the electricity from the generator to a transformer.
While travelling from the generator through electric cables, some of the electrical energy might get lost. You must know, high voltage electricity loses less energy than low voltage electricity. Consequently, to reduce the loss, electricity generated in the power plant is mostly stepped-up to a very high voltage.
Metal towers are capable of carrying electricity even at extremely high voltages. They are quite useful in transferring electricity wherever required.
High voltage electricity isn't usable for our home appliances; hence a step-down transformer is employed. It converts the high voltage of current into a lower voltage.
The lower voltage electricity flows through underground cables in our homes and serves the outlets on the wall.
So, now when you switch on your television, remember, it has some indirect connection to a piece of coal, which was burned hundreds of miles away! It was all about power plant operations. I hope you understood how energy is generated in a power plant.