How a thermal power station works

Thermal power stations generate energy through the combustion of various kind of materials.
In recent years, the majority of thermal power stations have been powered by methane gas, a substance that doesn’t contain sulphur and less polluting than oil or coal.
As a matter of fact, even though the renewable energy industry is growing faster, thermal power stations are not that popular yet on our territory.
To better understand how a thermal power station works, we will explain the mechanism through which a thermal power plant powered by gas, generates and injects electricity into the network.


How a thermal power station works


To understand how a combined cycle power station running on natural gas works, it is necessary to start from the beginning, i.e. from the gas turbine where the combustion of natural gas takes place. 

In the gas turbine, there is a compressor that compresses the incoming air.
Moreover, there is a combustion room where the combustion of natural gas takes place.
In addition to this, there is also a different stages turbine that, following the expansion of the gas fumes, produces mechanical energy.
The gas turbine is connected to an electric generator that transforms mechanical energy, generated by the blades of the turbine, into electrical energy. At the exit of the generator, there are specific transformers that raise the voltage of the electric energy produced and then injected into the electrical network.


Recovery of exhaust fumes for energy production


Exhaust fumes that exit from the gas turbine are recovered and only, later on, are conveyed in a steam generator, called the heat recovery steam generator. 
The aim of the generator is to exploit the remaining thermal energy, also known as the remaining of the hot gas.
It is exactly in the generator that steam is produced.
When the steam exits from the recovery steam generator, it must be sent to a suitable steam turbine to generate additional electricity.
Such a turbine is made of three units that operate in low, medium and high pressure.
The steam expands in all three units and manages to rotate the blades of the turbine. The turbine will have to rotate a shaft that connects the turbine to the electrical energy generator.
The exhausted steam, when exiting from the low-pressure body of the steam turbine, passes through the condenser.
In the event that it is an air-cooled condenser, it is possible to find some fans inside it. Through an air flow, these fans condense the steam into water. Water is then collected in specific thanks and, immediately after, is sent again to the condenser to generate further steam.


The advantages and disadvantages of thermal power stations


Every day, thanks to the energy produced by thermoelectric plants and injected into the network, you can switch on the light in your house, at school, at the office, you can operate all electrical household appliances and electrical devices.
But, what are the advantages and disadvantages of thermal power stations?
First of all, it is important to highlight that thermal power stations are highly polluting because the fuels used, they all contain sulphur.
For this reason, many people are asking to use only and exclusively natural gas, which does not contain sulphur and therefore is much less polluting.
Another aspect to be taken into account is the fact the energy sources used in these types of plants are all non-renewable energy sources, and above all, they are too expensive.
Therefore, it is normal to wonder why they have been so popular. In reality to be expensive are only the fuels.
Building a thermal plant doesn’t cost that much, that is why it seems to be a particularly advantageous investment.
Moreover, differently from hydroelectric power stations that need to be built in specific geographical conditions, thermal power plants don’t.
Thermal power stations can be built anywhere since to run, they do not require any specific characteristics.


Renewable energies and sustainable thermal plants: the new goal for producing energy


To prevent environmental impact of thermoelectric power stations, some countries are experimenting in some smaller, albeit, thermal plants, to use alternative fuels of plant origin, that are cultivated by implementing the so-called rotation forestry technique. 
This is a very useful technique as it allows to use the wood in every period of the year.
Well, we can be sure that the future of thermal power stations is going to be brighter, as we know that we will be able to generate increasingly clean energy, and having less impact on the environment.
For the moment, in our country, this is only an assumption. However, this could become a reality in the near future.
Obviously, it would be necessary to use wood obtained from trees able to regenerate in a short time.
In such a way, it would be possible to generate electricity while respecting the environment and, above all, avoiding to use non-renewable resources.
Certainly, over time, new ways of producing energy will become increasingly common, such as wind energy, photovoltaic and geothermal energy. To tell the truth, in recent years photovoltaic energy has become very popular.
Thanks to the many government incentives, people have started installing more photovoltaic panels.
However, as it has been mentioned earlier, thermal power stations are still among the most used and are the main responsible for much of the energy we use daily.


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