How Does a Power Plant Work?
Figure 6 (above): Conceptual Illustration of a Thermal Generation Power Plant
Electricity is a secondary power source harvested from the mechanical work that is exerted from a turbine to a coupled, rotary magnet that spins around copper coils within a generator.
The majority of turbine generators used are thermally driven by steam. In thermal generation, fuel is combusted to produce steam from which mechanical work is extracted as it releases energy through high-pressure condensation in a turbine. Coal, gas, nuclear, and petroleum power plants all utilize thermal power generation in combustion turbines. Sometimes these facilities also utilize waste heat to drive an additional turbine to increase the plant’s thermal efficiency, known as combined cycle facilities. Thermally-reliant power plants are characterized by their thermal efficiency factor which compares the amount of energy produced to the amount that was consumed in the process. These factors typically range from 0.45 – 0.60, which becomes incorporated in the design of the plant.