In today’s world, electricity is probably the most important form of energy. From commercial to residential usage, the importance of electricity is undeniable. With the increase in electricity demand, various methods for its production also originated. Nowadays, electricity is generated using water, heat and many other sources.
There are various kinds of power plants that use different forms of energy to generate electricity. The mechanism of every power plant is unique. All the power plants have their pros and cons as well. This blog will share with you the different types of power plants used for electricity generation.
The hydropower plant is the most commonly used mechanism to produce electricity. It is a renewable source of producing electricity and does not need fuel. A hydropower plant consists of a dam, reservoir, penstock, surge tank, turbine, generator, spillway, and many other sections. The basic mechanism behind hydropower plant is the conversion of the potential energy of water to kinetic energy.
A reservoir stores water at a height to gain potential energy which is then released onto the turbine via penstock. While the water drops, its potential energy transforms into kinetic energy that rotates the turbine resulting in the generation of electricity. The initial cost and the limited capacity of electricity generation of hydropower plants are the biggest drawbacks.
Tidal Power Plant
The basic concept of a hydropower plant and tidal power plant is similar, but the working mechanism differs. Unlike, hydropower plant, there is not an extensive system for water storage in the tidal power plants. The reason for that is the abundant supply of tides that keep on emerging from the sea or ocean. Although tidal power plants are still in the embryonic phase of development, they have a great future ahead.
Wind Power Plant
The wind energy may not be the widely used mechanism for electricity generation, but its popularity is on the rise. The working of a wind power plant is simple. It uses the kinetic energy of wind to run the turbine that produces electricity. Wind power plants are highly cost-effective as their set up cost is way lesser than other power plants. There is no emission of harmful gases from wind power plants, making them an environment-friendly choice.
The biggest disadvantage of using a wind power plant is its dependency on the wind. You cannot harvest electricity in the absence of wind. However, backup fuels like oil can come in handy when the wind is not blowing.
Thermal Power Plant
The thermal power plant is one of the most popular mechanisms for producing electricity. It uses heat energy for running turbines that generate electricity. There are different kinds of thermal power plants, including natural gas, oil, coal power plants. Out of all the types, the coal power plant is the most cost-efficient type of thermal power plant.
Thermal power plants have better adjustability than nuclear power plants. The pressure of a thermal power plant can be controlled with the help of safety valves which you should only get from a trusted gate valve manufacturer.
The initial cost of a thermal power plant is lesser compared to nuclear power plants and hydropower plants. It also has a high capacity of power generation and needs lesser space for construction than other power stations. However, a significant drawback of a thermal power plant is the emission of harmful gasses.
Geothermal Power Plant
A geothermal power plant uses the heat energy of water springs that emerge from underground. The basic principle of a geothermal power plant is similar to the thermal power plant. For accessing the hot water springs, digging is done. Once it comes out, a turbine attached to a generator is rotated that results in the generation of electricity.
Geothermal power plants are environment-friendly as compared to thermal power plants. Although geothermal power plants do not need fuel, the overall costs are not very less compared to thermal power plants. Its reason is the overwhelming drilling expense.
Solar Power Plant
Just like thermal power plants, a solar power plant also uses heat energy for generating electricity but has a different mechanism. It absorbs solar energy and uses it to heat an electrochemical fluid to generate electricity. The best thing about a solar power plant is that it does not require fuel just like hydropower plant. Also, its initial and operational costs are lesser compared to most of the power plants.
One big drawback of the solar power plant is that it is solely dependent on the sun. Whenever there is a cloud cover or rain, the efficiency of the solar drops down considerably. The capacity of power production from a solar power plant is lower than other types. That is why it is mostly used for residential purposes rather than industrially.
Nuclear Power Plant
A nuclear power plant also uses heat for the generation of electricity like thermal power plants. However, it makes use of nuclear materials like uranium in place of fossil fuels for producing heat energy. The radioactive material is heated, which initiates a chain reaction resulting in the production of electrical energy. A nuclear power plant is capable of producing more electrical energy than all other types of power plants.
The initial cost of nuclear power is more than the traditional power plants, but its operational cost is lesser. The reason behind it is that its fuel is less expensive compared to fossil fuels. The radioactive waste produced as a byproduct of the nuclear reaction is the downside of nuclear power plants. But its proper disposal can provide a solution to this problem.
The choice of a power plant depends on different factors from the demand of electrical energy to the investment. Every type of power plant has its positive and negative aspects. Hopefully, all the details mentioned above will give you a better picture of the different types of power plants.