Power station

A power station, also referred to as a power plant or powerhouse and sometimes generating station or generating plant, is an industrial facility for the generation of electric power. Most power stations contain one or more generators, a rotating machine that converts mechanical power into electrical power. The relative motion between a magnetic field and a conductor creates an electrical current. The energy source harnessed to turn the generator varies widely. Most power stations in the world burn fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas to generate electricity. Others use nuclear power, but there is an increasing use of cleaner renewable sources such as solar, wind, wave and hydroelectric.

Hydroelectric power station at Gabčíkovo Dam, Slovakia
Glen Canyon Dam and Bridge
Hydroelectric power station at Glen Canyon Dam, Page, Arizona


In 1878 a hydroelectric power station was designed and built by Lord Armstrong at Cragside, England. It used water from lakes on his estate to power Siemens dynamos. The electricity supplied power to lights, heating, produced hot water, ran an elevator as well as labor-saving devices and farm buildings.[1]

In the early 1870s Belgian inventor Zénobe Gramme invented a generator powerful enough to produce power on a commercial scale for industry.[2]

In the autumn of 1882, a central station providing public power was built in Godalming, England. It was proposed after the town failed to reach an agreement on the rate charged by the gas company, so the town council decided to use electricity. It used hydroelectric power for street lighting and household lighting. The system was not a commercial success and the town reverted to gas.[3]

In 1882 the world's first coal-fired public power station, the Edison Electric Light Station, was built in London, a project of Thomas Edison organized by Edward Johnson. A Babcock & Wilcox boiler powered a 125-horsepower steam engine that drove a 27-ton generator. This supplied electricity to premises in the area that could be reached through the culverts of the viaduct without digging up the road, which was the monopoly of the gas companies. The customers included the City Temple and the Old Bailey. Another important customer was the Telegraph Office of the General Post Office, but this could not be reached though the culverts. Johnson arranged for the supply cable to be run overhead, via Holborn Tavern and Newgate.[4]

In September 1882 in New York, the Pearl Street Station was established by Edison to provide electric lighting in the lower Manhattan Island area. The station ran until destroyed by fire in 1890. The station used reciprocating steam engines to turn direct-current generators. Because of the DC distribution, the service area was small, limited by voltage drop in the feeders. In 1886 George Westinghouse began building an alternating current system that used a transformer to step up voltage for long-distance transmission and then stepped it back down for indoor lighting, a more efficient and less expensive system which is similar to modern systems. The War of Currents eventually resolved in favor of AC distribution and utilization, although some DC systems persisted to the end of the 20th century. DC systems with a service radius of a mile (kilometer) or so were necessarily smaller, less efficient of fuel consumption, and more labor-intensive to operate than much larger central AC generating stations.

AC systems used a wide range of frequencies depending on the type of load; lighting load using higher frequencies, and traction systems and heavy motor load systems preferring lower frequencies. The economics of central station generation improved greatly when unified light and power systems, operating at a common frequency, were developed. The same generating plant that fed large industrial loads during the day, could feed commuter railway systems during rush hour and then serve lighting load in the evening, thus improving the system load factor and reducing the cost of electrical energy overall. Many exceptions existed, generating stations were dedicated to power or light by the choice of frequency, and rotating frequency changers and rotating converters were particularly common to feed electric railway systems from the general lighting and power network.

Throughout the first few decades of the 20th century central stations became larger, using higher steam pressures to provide greater efficiency, and relying on interconnections of multiple generating stations to improve reliability and cost. High-voltage AC transmission allowed hydroelectric power to be conveniently moved from distant waterfalls to city markets. The advent of the steam turbine in central station service, around 1906, allowed great expansion of generating capacity. Generators were no longer limited by the power transmission of belts or the relatively slow speed of reciprocating engines, and could grow to enormous sizes. For example, Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti planned what would have been the largest reciprocating steam engine ever built for a proposed new central station, but scrapped the plans when turbines became available in the necessary size. Building power systems out of central stations required combinations of engineering skill and financial acumen in equal measure. Pioneers of central station generation include George Westinghouse and Samuel Insull in the United States, Ferranti and Charles Hesterman Merz in UK, and many others.

Thermal power stations

Dampfturbine Laeufer01
Rotor of a modern steam turbine, used in a power station

In thermal power stations, mechanical power is produced by a heat engine that transforms thermal energy, often from combustion of a fuel, into rotational energy. Most thermal power stations produce steam, so they are sometimes called steam power stations. Not all thermal energy can be transformed into mechanical power, according to the second law of thermodynamics; therefore, there is always heat lost to the environment. If this loss is employed as useful heat, for industrial processes or district heating, the power plant is referred to as a cogeneration power plant or CHP (combined heat-and-power) plant. In countries where district heating is common, there are dedicated heat plants called heat-only boiler stations. An important class of power stations in the Middle East uses by-product heat for the desalination of water.

The efficiency of a thermal power cycle is limited by the maximum working fluid temperature produced. The efficiency is not directly a function of the fuel used. For the same steam conditions, coal-, nuclear- and gas power plants all have the same theoretical efficiency. Overall, if a system is on constantly (base load) it will be more efficient than one that is used intermittently (peak load). Steam turbines generally operate at higher efficiency when operated at full capacity.

Besides use of reject heat for process or district heating, one way to improve overall efficiency of a power plant is to combine two different thermodynamic cycles in a combined cycle plant. Most commonly, exhaust gases from a gas turbine are used to generate steam for a boiler and a steam turbine. The combination of a "top" cycle and a "bottom" cycle produces higher overall efficiency than either cycle can attain alone.


Power station in blocks
Modular block overview of a power station. Dashed lines show special additions like combined cycle and cogeneration or optional storage.
DTE St Clair
St. Clair Power Plant, a large coal-fired generating station in Michigan, United States

By heat source

By prime mover

  • Steam turbine plants use the dynamic pressure generated by expanding steam to turn the blades of a turbine. Almost all large non-hydro plants use this system. About 90 percent of all electric power produced in the world is through use of steam turbines.[6]
  • Gas turbine plants use the dynamic pressure from flowing gases (air and combustion products) to directly operate the turbine. Natural-gas fuelled (and oil fueled) combustion turbine plants can start rapidly and so are used to supply "peak" energy during periods of high demand, though at higher cost than base-loaded plants. These may be comparatively small units, and sometimes completely unmanned, being remotely operated. This type was pioneered by the UK, Princetown[7] being the world's first, commissioned in 1959.
  • Combined cycle plants have both a gas turbine fired by natural gas, and a steam boiler and steam turbine which use the hot exhaust gas from the gas turbine to produce electricity. This greatly increases the overall efficiency of the plant, and many new baseload power plants are combined cycle plants fired by natural gas.
  • Internal combustion reciprocating engines are used to provide power for isolated communities and are frequently used for small cogeneration plants. Hospitals, office buildings, industrial plants, and other critical facilities also use them to provide backup power in case of a power outage. These are usually fuelled by diesel oil, heavy oil, natural gas, and landfill gas.
  • Microturbines, Stirling engine and internal combustion reciprocating engines are low-cost solutions for using opportunity fuels, such as landfill gas, digester gas from water treatment plants and waste gas from oil production.

By duty

Power plants that can be dispatched (scheduled) to provide energy to a system include:

  • Base load power plants run nearly continually to provide that component of system load that doesn't vary during a day or week. Baseload plants can be highly optimized for low fuel cost, but may not start or stop quickly during changes in system load. Examples of base-load plants would include large modern coal-fired and nuclear generating stations, or hydro plants with a predictable supply of water.
  • Peaking power plants meet the daily peak load, which may only be for one or two hours each day. While their incremental operating cost is always higher than base load plants, they are required to ensure security of the system during load peaks. Peaking plants include simple cycle gas turbines and sometimes reciprocating internal combustion engines, which can be started up rapidly when system peaks are predicted. Hydroelectric plants may also be designed for peaking use.
  • Load following power plants can economically follow the variations in the daily and weekly load, at lower cost than peaking plants and with more flexibility than baseload plants.

Non-dispatchable plants include such sources as wind and solar energy; while their long-term contribution to system energy supply is predictable, on a short-term (daily or hourly) base their energy must be used as available since generation cannot be deferred. Contractual arrangements ("take or pay") with independent power producers or system interconnections to other networks may be effectively non-dispatchable.

Cooling towers

Cooling tower power station Dresden
"Camouflaged" natural draft wet cooling tower

All thermal power plants produce waste heat energy as a byproduct of the useful electrical energy produced. The amount of waste heat energy equals or exceeds the amount of energy converted into useful electricity. Gas-fired power plants can achieve as much as 65 percent conversion efficiency, while coal and oil plants achieve around 30 to 49 percent. The waste heat produces a temperature rise in the atmosphere, which is small compared to that produced by greenhouse-gas emissions from the same power plant. Natural draft wet cooling towers at many nuclear power plants and large fossil fuel-fired power plants use large hyperboloid chimney-like structures (as seen in the image at the right) that release the waste heat to the ambient atmosphere by the evaporation of water.

However, the mechanical induced-draft or forced-draft wet cooling towers in many large thermal power plants, nuclear power plants, fossil-fired power plants, petroleum refineries, petrochemical plants, geothermal, biomass and waste-to-energy plants use fans to provide air movement upward through downcoming water, and are not hyperboloid chimney-like structures. The induced or forced-draft cooling towers are typically rectangular, box-like structures filled with a material that enhances the mixing of the upflowing air and the downflowing water.[8][9]

In areas with restricted water use, a dry cooling tower or directly air-cooled radiators may be necessary, since the cost or environmental consequences of obtaining make-up water for evaporative cooling would be prohibitive. These coolers have lower efficiency and higher energy consumption to drive fans, compared to a typical wet, evaporative cooling tower.

Once-through cooling systems

Electric companies often prefer to use cooling water from the ocean, a lake, or a river, or a cooling pond, instead of a cooling tower. This single pass or once-through cooling system can save the cost of a cooling tower and may have lower energy costs for pumping cooling water through the plant's heat exchangers. However, the waste heat can cause thermal pollution as the water is discharged. Power plants using natural bodies of water for cooling are designed with mechanisms such as fish screens, to limit intake of organisms into the cooling machinery. These screens are only partially effective and as a result billions of fish and other aquatic organisms are killed by power plants each year.[10][11] For example, the cooling system at the Indian Point Energy Center in New York kills over a billion fish eggs and larvae annually.[12]

A further environmental impact is that aquatic organisms which adapt to the warmer discharge water may be injured if the plant shuts down in cold weather.

Water consumption by power stations is a developing issue.[13]

In recent years, recycled wastewater, or grey water, has been used in cooling towers. The Calpine Riverside and the Calpine Fox power stations in Wisconsin as well as the Calpine Mankato power station in Minnesota are among these facilities.

Power from renewable energy

Power stations can also generate electrical energy from renewable energy sources.

Hydroelectric power station

In a hydroelectric power station water flows through turbines using hydropower to generate hydroelectricity. Power is captured from the gravitational force of water falling through penstocks to water turbines connected to generators. The amount of power available is a combination of height and flow. A wide range of Dams may be built to raise the water level, and create a lake for storing water. Hydropower is produced in 150 countries, with the Asia-Pacific region generating 32 percent of global hydropower in 2010. China is the largest hydroelectricity producer, with 721 terawatt-hours of production in 2010, representing around 17 percent of domestic electricity use.


Solar energy can be turned into electricity either directly in solar cells, or in a concentrating solar power plant by focusing the light to run a heat engine.

A solar photovoltaic power plant converts sunlight into direct current electricity using the photoelectric effect. Inverters change the direct current into alternating current for connection to the electrical grid. This type of plant does not use rotating machines for energy conversion.

Solar thermal power plants are another type of solar power plant. They use either parabolic troughs or heliostats to direct sunlight onto a pipe containing a heat transfer fluid, such as oil. The heated oil is then used to boil water into steam, which turns a turbine that drives an electrical generator. The central tower type of solar thermal power plant uses hundreds or thousands of mirrors, depending on size, to direct sunlight onto a receiver on top of a tower. Again, the heat is used to produce steam to turn turbines that drive electrical generators.


GreenMountainWindFarm Fluvanna 2004
Wind turbines in Texas, United States

Wind turbines can be used to generate electricity in areas with strong, steady winds, sometimes offshore. Many different designs have been used in the past, but almost all modern turbines being produced today use a three-bladed, upwind design. Grid-connected wind turbines now being built are much larger than the units installed during the 1970s. They thus produce power more cheaply and reliably than earlier models. With larger turbines (on the order of one megawatt), the blades move more slowly than older, smaller, units, which makes them less visually distracting and safer for birds.


Marine energy or marine power (also sometimes referred to as ocean energy or ocean power) refers to the energy carried by ocean waves, tides, salinity, and ocean temperature differences. The movement of water in the world’s oceans creates a vast store of kinetic energy, or energy in motion. This energy can be harnessed to generate electricity to power homes, transport and industries.

The term marine energy encompasses both wave power — power from surface waves, and tidal power — obtained from the kinetic energy of large bodies of moving water. Offshore wind power is not a form of marine energy, as wind power is derived from the wind, even if the wind turbines are placed over water.

The oceans have a tremendous amount of energy and are close to many if not most concentrated populations. Ocean energy has the potential of providing a substantial amount of new renewable energy around the world.[14]


Hurum osmosis power 02
Osmotic Power Prototype at Tofte (Hurum), Norway

Salinity gradient energy is called pressure-retarded osmosis. In this method, seawater is pumped into a pressure chamber that is at a pressure lower than the difference between the pressures of saline water and fresh water. Freshwater is also pumped into the pressure chamber through a membrane, which increases both the volume and pressure of the chamber. As the pressure differences are compensated, a turbine is spun creating energy. This method is being specifically studied by the Norwegian utility Statkraft, which has calculated that up to 25 TWh/yr would be available from this process in Norway. Statkraft has built the world's first prototype osmotic power plant on the Oslo fiord which was opened on November 24, 2009.


Metz biomass power station
Metz biomass power station

Biomass energy can be produced from combustion of waste green material to heat water into steam and drive a steam turbine. Bioenergy can also be processed through a range of temperatures and pressures in gasification, pyrolysis or torrefaction reactions. Depending on the desired end product, these reactions create more energy-dense products (syngas, wood pellets, biocoal) that can then be fed into an accompanying engine to produce electricity at a much lower emission rate when compared with open burning.

Storage power stations

It is possible to store energy and produce the electricity at a later time like in Pumped-storage hydroelectricity, Thermal energy storage, Flywheel energy storage, Battery storage power station and so on.

Pumped storage

The worlds largest form of storage for excess electricity, pumped-storage is a reversible hydroelectric plant. They are a net consumer of energy but provide storage for any source of electricity, effectively smoothing peaks and troughs in electricity supply and demand. Pumped storage plants typically use "spare" electricity during off peak periods to pump water from a lower reservoir to an upper reservoir. Because the pumping takes place "off peak", electricity is less valuable than at peak times. This less valuable "spare" electricity comes from uncontrolled wind power and base load power plants such as coal, nuclear and geothermal, which still produce power at night even though demand is very low. During daytime peak demand, when electricity prices are high, the storage is used for peaking power, where water in the upper reservoir is allowed to flow back to a lower reservoir through a turbine and generator. Unlike coal power stations, which can take more than 12 hours to start up from cold, a hydroelectric generator can be brought into service in a few minutes, ideal to meet a peak load demand. Two substantial pumped storage schemes are in South Africa, Palmiet Pumped Storage Scheme and another in the Drakensberg, Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme.

Typical power output

The power generated by a power station is measured in multiples of the watt, typically megawatts (106 watts) or gigawatts (109 watts). Power stations vary greatly in capacity depending on the type of power plant and on historical, geographical and economic factors. The following examples offer a sense of the scale.

Many of the largest operational onshore wind farms are located in the USA. As of 2011, the Roscoe Wind Farm is the second largest onshore wind farm in the world, producing 781.5 MW of power, followed by the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center (735.5 MW). As of July 2013, the London Array in United Kingdom is the largest offshore wind farm in the world at 630 MW, followed by Thanet Offshore Wind Project in United Kingdom at 300 MW.

As of 2015, the largest photovoltaic (PV) power plants in the world are led by Longyangxia Dam Solar Park in China, rated at 850 megawatts.

Solar thermal power stations in the U.S. have the following output:

The country's largest solar facility at Kramer Junction has an output of 354 MW
The Blythe Solar Power Project planned production is estimated at 485 MW

Large coal-fired, nuclear, and hydroelectric power stations can generate hundreds of megawatts to multiple gigawatts. Some examples:

The Koeberg Nuclear Power Station in South Africa has a rated capacity of 1860 megawatts.
The coal-fired Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station in the UK has a rated capacity of 2 gigawatts.
The Aswan Dam hydro-electric plant in Egypt has a capacity of 2.1 gigawatts.
The Three Gorges Dam hydro-electric plant in China has a capacity of 22.5 gigawatts.

Gas turbine power plants can generate tens to hundreds of megawatts. Some examples:

The Indian Queens simple-cycle, or open cycle gas turbine (OCGT), peaking power station in Cornwall UK, with a single gas turbine is rated 140 megawatts.
The Medway Power Station, a combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power station in Kent, UK with two gas turbines and one steam turbine, is rated 700 megawatts.[15]

The rated capacity of a power station is nearly the maximum electrical power that that power station can produce. Some power plants are run at almost exactly their rated capacity all the time, as a non-load-following base load power plant, except at times of scheduled or unscheduled maintenance.

However, many power plants usually produce much less power than their rated capacity.

In some cases a power plant produces much less power than its rated capacity because it uses an intermittent energy source. Operators try to pull maximum available power from such power plants, because their marginal cost is practically zero, but the available power varies widely—in particular, it may be zero during heavy storms at night.

In some cases operators deliberately produce less power for economic reasons. The cost of fuel to run a load following power plant may be relatively high, and the cost of fuel to run a peaking power plant is even higher—they have relatively high marginal costs. Operators keep power plants turned off ("operational reserve") or running at minimum fuel consumption ("spinning reserve") most of the time. Operators feed more fuel into load following power plants only when the demand rises above what lower-cost plants (i.e., intermittent and base load plants) can produce, and then feed more fuel into peaking power plants only when the demand rises faster than the load following power plants can follow.


Power plant control room
Control room of a power plant

Operating staff at a power station have several duties. Operators are responsible for the safety of the work crews that frequently do repairs on the mechanical and electrical equipment. They maintain the equipment with periodic inspections and log temperatures, pressures and other important information at regular intervals. Operators are responsible for starting and stopping the generators depending on need. They are able to synchronize and adjust the voltage output of the added generation with the running electrical system, without upsetting the system. They must know the electrical and mechanical systems to troubleshoot problems in the facility and add to the reliability of the facility. Operators must be able to respond to an emergency and know the procedures in place to deal with it.

See also


  1. ^ "Hydro-electricity restored to historic Northumberland home". BBC News.
  2. ^ Thompson, Silvanus Phillips (1888). Dynamo-electric Machinery: A Manual for Students of Electrotechnics. London: E. & F. N. Spon. p. 140.
  3. ^ McNeil, Ian (1996). An Encyclopaedia of the History of Technology ([New ed.]. ed.). London: Routledge. p. 369. ISBN 978-0-415-14792-7.
  4. ^ Jack Harris (14 January 1982), "The electricity of Holborn", New Scientist
  5. ^ Nuclear Power Plants Information, by International Atomic Energy Agency
  6. ^ Wiser, Wendell H. (2000). Energy resources: occurrence, production, conversion, use. Birkhäuser. p. 190. ISBN 978-0-387-98744-6.
  7. ^ SWEB's Pocket Power Stations Archived 4 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ J.C. Hensley (Editor) (2006). Cooling Tower Fundamentals (2nd ed.). SPX Cooling Technologies.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  9. ^ Beychok, Milton R. (1967). Aqueous Wastes from Petroleum and Petrochemical Plants (4th ed.). John Wiley and Sons. LCCN 67019834. (Includes cooling tower material balance for evaporation emissions and blowdown effluents. Available in many university libraries)
  10. ^ Riverkeeper, Inc. v. U.S. EPA, 358 F.3d 174, 181 (2d Cir. 2004) ("A single power plant might impinge a million adult fish in just a three-week period, or entrain some 3 to 4 billion smaller fish and shellfish in a year, destabilizing wildlife populations in the surrounding ecosystem.").
  11. ^ U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC (May 2014). "Final Regulations to Establish Requirements for Cooling Water Intake Structures at Existing Facilities." Fact sheet. Document no. EPA-821-F-14-001.
  12. ^ McGeehan, Patrick (12 May 2015). "Fire Prompts Renewed Calls to Close the Indian Point Nuclear Plant". New York Times.
  13. ^ American Association for the Advancement of Science. AAAS Annual Meeting 17 - 21 Feb 2011, Washington DC. "Sustainable or Not? Impacts and Uncertainties of Low-Carbon Energy Technologies on Water." Dr Evangelos Tzimas, European Commission, JRC Institute for Energy, Petten, Netherlands.
  14. ^ Carbon Trust, Future Marine Energy. Results of the Marine Energy Challenge: Cost competitiveness and growth of wave and tidal stream energy, January 2006
  15. ^ CCGT Plants in South England, by Power Plants Around the World

External links

Battersea Power Station

Battersea Power Station is a decommissioned coal-fired power station, which is now being redeveloped to bring new homes, offices, shops, restaurants, bars, open space and more to Wandsworth, south London. Now owned by a consortium of Malaysian investors, the Grade II* listed building and the surrounding 42 acres are being gentrified through an eight phase development project. The first phase, Circus West Village, is already complete and now open to the public to eat, drink, shop, exercise and live. Situated on the south bank of the river by Chelsea Bridge, over 1000 people now live at Circus West Village, and 12 restaurants, bars and shops are open alongside a fitness studio and a hair salon. Circus West Village is accessible by river bus, as the new Battersea Power Station pier is serviced by MBNA Thames Clippers.The Power Station itself is the second phase of the project, and will be home to over 250 residential units, bars, restaurants, office space (occupied by Apple and No.18 business members club), shops, entertainment space and more.

In 2012, administrators Ernst & Young entered into an exclusivity agreement with Malaysia's SP Setia and Sime Darby to develop the site. The £400 million sale was completed in September 2012, and the redevelopment was planned to implement the Rafael Vinoly design, which had gained planning consent from Wandsworth Council in 2011. In January 2013, the first residential apartments went on sale. Construction on Phase 1 was due to commence in 2013, with completion due in 2016/17. Apple will locate its new London headquarters at Battersea Power Station, becoming the largest office tenant with 1,400 staff on six floors in the central boiler house.

Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant

The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant or Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station (Ukrainian: Чорнобильська атомна електростанція, Chornobyls'ka Atomna Elektrostantsiya, Russian: Чернобыльская АЭС, Chernobyl'skaya AES) is a decommissioned nuclear power station near the city of Pripyat, Ukraine, 14.5 km (9.0 mi) northwest of the city of Chernobyl, 16 km (9.9 mi) from the Belarus–Ukraine border, and about 110 km (68 mi) north of Kiev. Reactor Number 4 was the site of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and the power plant is now within a large restricted area known as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Both the zone and the former power plant are administered by the State Agency of Ukraine of the Exclusion Zone (Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources). All four reactors have been shut down.

The nuclear power plant site clean-up is scheduled for completion in 2065. On January 3, 2010, a Ukrainian law stipulating a programme toward this objective came into effect.


Cogeneration or combined heat and power (CHP) is the use of a heat engine or power station to generate electricity and useful heat at the same time. Trigeneration or combined cooling, heat and power (CCHP) refers to the simultaneous generation of electricity and useful heating and cooling from the combustion of a fuel or a solar heat collector. The terms cogeneration and trigeneration can be also applied to the power systems generating simultaneously electricity, heat, and industrial chemicals – e.g., syngas or pure hydrogen (article: combined cycles, chapter: natural gas integrated power & syngas (hydrogen) generation cycle).

Cogeneration is a more efficient use of fuel because otherwise wasted heat from electricity generation is put to some productive use. Combined heat and power (CHP) plants recover otherwise wasted thermal energy for heating. This is also called combined heat and power district heating. Small CHP plants are an example of decentralized energy. By-product heat at moderate temperatures (100–180 °C, 212–356 °F) can also be used in absorption refrigerators for cooling.

The supply of high-temperature heat first drives a gas or steam turbine-powered generator. The resulting low-temperature waste heat is then used for water or space heating. At smaller scales (typically below 1 MW) a gas engine or diesel engine may be used. Trigeneration differs from cogeneration in that the waste heat is used for both heating and cooling, typically in an absorption refrigerator. Combined cooling, heat and power systems can attain higher overall efficiencies than cogeneration or traditional power plants. In the United States, the application of trigeneration in buildings is called building cooling, heating and power. Heating and cooling output may operate concurrently or alternately depending on need and system construction.

Cogeneration was practiced in some of the earliest installations of electrical generation. Before central stations distributed power, industries generating their own power used exhaust steam for process heating. Large office and apartment buildings, hotels and stores commonly generated their own power and used waste steam for building heat. Due to the high cost of early purchased power, these CHP operations continued for many years after utility electricity became available.

Fossil fuel power station

A fossil fuel power station is a thermal power station which burns a fossil fuel such as coal, natural gas, or petroleum to produce electricity. Central station fossil fuel power plants are designed on a large scale for continuous operation. In many countries, such plants provide most of the electrical energy used. Fossil fuel power stations have machinery to convert the heat energy of combustion into mechanical energy, which then operates an electrical generator. The prime mover may be a steam turbine, a gas turbine or, in small plants, a reciprocating internal combustion engine. All plants use the energy extracted from expanding gas, either steam or combustion gases.

Although different energy conversion methods exist, all thermal power station conversion methods have efficiency limited by the Carnot efficiency and therefore produce waste heat.

By-products of fossil fuel power plant operation must be considered in their design and operation. The flue gas from combustion of the fossil fuels is discharged to the air. This gas contains carbon dioxide and water vapor, as well as other substances such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), mercury, traces of other metals, and, for coal-fired plants, fly ash. Solid waste ash from coal-fired boilers must also be removed. Some coal ash can be recycled for building materials.Fossil fueled power stations are major emitters of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas which is a major contributor to global warming.

The results of a recent study show that the net income available to shareholders of large companies could see a significant reduction from the greenhouse gas emissions liability related to only natural disasters in the United States from a single coal-fired power plant.

However, as of 2015, no such cases have awarded damages in the United States.

Per unit of electric energy, brown coal emits nearly two times as much CO2 as natural gas, and black coal emits somewhat less than brown.

Carbon capture and storage of emissions has been proposed to limit the environmental impact of fossil fuel power stations, but it is still at a demonstration stage.

Geothermal power

Geothermal power is power generated by geothermal energy. Technologies in use include dry steam power stations, flash steam power stations and binary cycle power stations. Geothermal electricity generation is currently used in 24 countries, while geothermal heating is in use in 70 countries.As of 2015, worldwide geothermal power capacity amounts to 12.8 gigawatts (GW), of which 28 percent or 3,548 megawatts (MW) are installed in the United States. International markets grew at an average annual rate of 5 percent over the three years to 2015, and global geothermal power capacity is expected to reach 14.5–17.6 GW by 2020. Based on current geologic knowledge and technology the GEA publicly discloses, the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) estimates that only 6.9 percent of total global potential has been tapped so far, while the IPCC reported geothermal power potential to be in the range of 35 GW to 2 TW. Countries generating more than 15 percent of their electricity from geothermal sources include El Salvador, Kenya, the Philippines, Iceland, New Zealand and Costa Rica.

Geothermal power is considered to be a sustainable, renewable source of energy because the heat extraction is small compared with the Earth's heat content. The greenhouse gas emissions of geothermal electric stations are on average 45 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour of electricity, or less than 5 percent of that of conventional coal-fired plants.As a source of renewable energy for both power and heating, geothermal has the potential to meet 3-5% of global demand by 2050. With economic incentives, it is estimated that by 2100 it will be possible to meet 10% of global demand.


Hydroelectricity is electricity produced from hydropower. In 2015, hydropower generated 16.6% of the world's total electricity and 70% of all renewable electricity, and was expected to increase about 3.1% each year for the next 25 years.

Hydropower is produced in 150 countries, with the Asia-Pacific region generating 33 percent of global hydropower in 2013. China is the largest hydroelectricity producer, with 920 TWh of production in 2013, representing 16.9 percent of domestic electricity use.

The cost of hydroelectricity is relatively low, making it a competitive source of renewable electricity. The hydro station consumes no water, unlike coal or gas plants. The average cost of electricity from a hydro station larger than 10 megawatts is 3 to 5 U.S. cents per kilowatt hour. With a dam and reservoir it is also a flexible source of electricity since the amount produced by the station can be varied up or down very rapidly (as little as a few seconds) to adapt to changing energy demands. Once a hydroelectric complex is constructed, the project produces no direct waste, and in many cases, has a considerably lower output level of greenhouse gases than fossil fuel powered energy plants.

List of largest power stations

This article lists the largest power stations in the world, the ten overall and the five of each type, in terms of current installed electrical capacity. Non-renewable power stations are those that run on coal, fuel oils, nuclear, natural gas, oil shale and peat, while renewable power stations run on fuel sources such as biomass, geothermal heat, hydro, solar energy, solar heat, tides, waves and the wind. Only the most significant fuel source is listed for power stations that run on multiple sources.

At present, the largest power generating facility ever built is the Three Gorges Dam in China. The facility generates power by utilizing 32 Francis turbines each having a capacity of 700 MW and two 50 MW turbines, totalling the installed capacity to 22,500 MW, more than twice the installed capacity of the largest nuclear power station, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa (Japan) at 7,965 MW. As of 2017 no power station comparable to Three Gorges is under construction, as the largest under construction power stations are hydroelectric Baihetan Dam (16,000 MW) and Belo Monte Dam (11,233 MW).Although currently only a proposal, the Grand Inga Dam in the Congo would surpass all existing power stations, including the Three Gorges Dam, if construction commences as planned. The design targets to top 39,000 MW in installed capacity, nearly twice that of the Three Gorges. Another proposal, Penzhin Tidal Power Plant Project, presumes an installed capacity up to 87,100 MW.

List of tallest freestanding structures

This is a list of tallest freestanding structures in the world past and present. To be freestanding a structure must not be supported by guy wires, the sea or other types of support. It therefore does not include guyed masts, partially guyed towers and drilling platforms but does include towers, skyscrapers (pinnacle height) and chimneys.

Madras Atomic Power Station

Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS) located at Kalpakkam about 80 kilometres (50 mi) south of Chennai, India, is a comprehensive nuclear power production, fuel reprocessing, and waste treatment facility that includes plutonium fuel fabrication for fast breeder reactors (FBRs). It is also India's first fully indigenously constructed nuclear power station, with two units each generating 220 MW of electricity. The first and second units of the station went critical in 1983 and 1985 respectively. The station has reactors housed in a reactor building with double shell containment improving protection also in the case of a loss-of-coolant accident. An Interim Storage Facility (ISF) is also located in Kalpakkam.

Nameplate capacity

Nameplate capacity, also known as the rated capacity, nominal capacity, installed capacity, or maximum effect, is the intended full-load sustained output of a facility such as a power plant, electric generator, a chemical plant, fuel plant, metal refinery, mine, and many others. Nameplate capacity is the number registered with authorities for classifying the power output of a power station usually expressed in megawatts (MW).Power plants with an output consistently near their nameplate capacity have a high capacity factor.

North Chennai Thermal Power Station

The North Chennai Thermal Power Station is a power station situated about 25 kilometres (16 mi) from Chennai city. It is one of the major power plants of Tamil Nadu and has a total installed capacity of 1,830 MW (2,450,000 hp).

Nuclear power plant

A nuclear power plant or nuclear power station is a thermal power station in which the heat source is a nuclear reactor. As it is typical of thermal power stations, heat is used to generate steam that drives a steam turbine connected to a generator that produces electricity. As of 23 April 2014, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports there are 450 nuclear power reactors in operation in 31 countries.Nuclear plants are usually considered to be base load stations since fuel is a small part of the cost of production and because they cannot be easily or quickly dispatched. Their operations and maintenance (O&M) and fuel costs are, along with hydropower stations, at the low end of the spectrum and make them suitable as base-load power suppliers. The cost of spent fuel management, however, is somewhat uncertain.

Power Station (recording studio)

Power Station at BerkleeNYC, formerly known as Avatar Studios is a recording studio at 441 West 53rd Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood in Manhattan, New York City.

Pumped-storage hydroelectricity

Pumped-storage hydroelectricity (PSH), or pumped hydroelectric energy storage (PHES), is a type of hydroelectric energy storage used by electric power systems for load balancing. The method stores energy in the form of gravitational potential energy of water, pumped from a lower elevation reservoir to a higher elevation. Low-cost surplus off-peak electric power is typically used to run the pumps. During periods of high electrical demand, the stored water is released through turbines to produce electric power. Although the losses of the pumping process makes the plant a net consumer of energy overall, the system increases revenue by selling more electricity during periods of peak demand, when electricity prices are highest.

Pumped-storage hydroelectricity allows energy from intermittent sources (such as solar, wind) and other renewables, or excess electricity from continuous base-load sources (such as coal or nuclear) to be saved for periods of higher demand. The reservoirs used with pumped storage are quite small when compared to conventional hydroelectric dams of similar power capacity, and generating periods are often less than half a day.

Pumped storage is the largest-capacity form of grid energy storage available, and, as of 2017, the United States Department of Energy Global Energy Storage Database reports that PSH accounts for over 95% of all active tracked storage installations worldwide, with a total installed nameplate capacity of over 184 GW, of which about 25 GW are in the United States. The round-trip energy efficiency of PSH varies between 70%–80%, with some sources claiming up to 87%. The main disadvantage of PSH is the specialist nature of the site required, needing both geographical height and water availability. Suitable sites are therefore likely to be in hilly or mountainous regions, and potentially in areas of outstanding natural beauty, and therefore there are also social and ecological issues to overcome. Many recently proposed projects, at least in the U.S., avoid highly sensitive or scenic areas, and some propose to take advantage of "brownfield" locations such as disused mines.

Richborough Energy Park

Richborough Energy Park is a site of non-traditional power generation, on the site of the former Richborough power station close to the mouth of the River Stour near Sandwich, on the east coast of Kent, England.

Robert Palmer (singer)

Robert Allen Palmer (19 January 1949 – 26 September 2003) was an English singer-songwriter, musician, and record producer. He was known for combining soul, jazz, rock, pop, reggae, and blues.

Palmer's involvement in the music industry began in the 1960s, covered four decades and included a spell with the band Vinegar Joe. He found success both in his solo career and with the Power Station, and had Top 10 songs in both the United Kingdom and the United States in the 1980s. Two of his hit singles, "Addicted to Love" and “Simply Irresistible”, were accompanied with stylish music videos directed by British fashion photographer Terence Donovan. Palmer received a number of awards throughout his career, including two Grammy Awards for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, an MTV Video Music Award, and two Brit Award nominations for Best British Male Solo Artist.Palmer died aged 54 following a heart attack on 26 September 2003.


Sellafield is a nuclear fuel reprocessing and nuclear decommissioning site, close to the village of Seascale on the coast of the Irish Sea in Cumbria, England. The site is served by Sellafield railway station.

Sellafield incorporates the original nuclear reactor site at Windscale, which as of April 2019 is undergoing decommissioning and dismantling, and Calder Hall, a neighbour of Windscale, which is also undergoing decommissioning and dismantling of its four nuclear power generating reactors.

It is the site of the world's first commercial nuclear power station to generate electricity on an industrial scale.

Thermal power station

A thermal power station is a power station in which heat energy is converted to electric power. In most of the places in the world the turbine is steam-driven. Water is heated, turns into steam and spins a steam turbine which drives an electrical generator. After it passes through the turbine, the steam is condensed in a condenser and recycled to where it was heated; this is known as a Rankine cycle. The greatest variation in the design of thermal power stations is due to the different heat sources; fossil fuel dominates here, although nuclear heat energy and solar heat energy are also used. Some prefer to use the term energy center because such facilities convert forms of heat energy into electrical energy. Certain thermal power stations are also designed to produce heat energy for industrial purposes, or district heating, or desalination of water, in addition to generating electrical power.


Ulla-Førre is a hydropower complex in Suldal, Hjelmeland and Bykle in Norway. It has an installed capacity of approximately 2,100 MW, and the annual average production is 4.45 TWh (16.0 PJ) (1987-2006), while its annual potential is about 7.8 TWh (28 PJ). The complex includes the artificial lake Blåsjø, which is made by dams around 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) above the sea level. The hydroelectric power station in the complex are Saurdal, Kvilldal, Hylen and Stølsdal, operated by Statkraft.

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