Hydro and thermal power generation

  • The processes involved in the production of electricity at power stations depend on the energy being used
  • Power stations for generating electricity use alternators driven either by water or steam turbines. A turbine is a wheel with paddles that can be rotated by running water or steam.


Thermal power

  • Turbines are connected to the generator driven by steam under great pressure – Coal (or any fossil fuel) is burnt to produce heat energy that turns water into steam. The steam drives turbines which in turn drive the generators that produce electrical energy.
  • If coal is used, the steam is obtained from a boiler
  • Steam enters the turbine and is directed by the stator on to the rotor (sets of blades on a shaft that can rotate)

    The rotor revolves and drives the electrical generator. The steam expands as it passes through the turbine and the size of the blades increases along the turbine to allow for this

Chemical energy > heat energy > kinetic energy of > electrical of steam rotating turbine energy


Hydro power

  • Turbines are connected to a generator driven by the movement of water.
  • Water is channelled down towards the turbines and then released back into the river after use.
  • The potential energy of water falling from a height is changed by turbines to kinetic energy and then by alternators to electrical energy.
  • The alternators generate a high alternating voltage and can supply currents of thousands of amperes.

Potential > energy > kinetic energy > kinetic energy electrical of water of falling water of rotating turbine energy

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