You are on page 1of 5


A power 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 hydro
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

By heat source

Fossil-fuel power stations may also use a steam turbine generator or in the case
of natural gas-fired plants may use a combustion turbine. A coal-fired power
station produces heat by burning coal in a steam boiler. The steam drives
a steam turbine and generator that then produces electricity The waste products
of combustion include ash, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides andcarbon dioxide.
Some of the gases can be removed from the waste stream to reduce pollution.

Nuclear power plants use a nuclear reactor's heat that is transferred to steam
which then operates a steam turbine and generator.

Geothermal power plants use steam extracted from hot underground rocks.

Biomass-fuelled power plants may be fuelled by waste from

cane, municipal solid waste, landfill methane, or other forms of biomass.

In integrated steel mills, blast furnace exhaust gas is a low-cost, although lowenergy-density, fuel.

Waste heat from industrial processes is occasionally concentrated enough to use

for power generation, usually in a steam boiler and turbine.



Solar thermal electric plants use sunlight to boil water and produce steam which
turns the generator.

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% of all electric power produced in the world is through use of steam
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 baseloaded plants. These may be comparatively small units, and sometimes
completely unmanned, being remotely operated.
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 base load power plants are combined cycle plants fired by natural
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.
Micro turbines, 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

Base load power plants run nearly continually to provide that component of
system load that doesn't vary during a day or week. Base load 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
base load plants.
A thermal power works on RANKINE CYCLE.

An ideal Rankine cycle involves four processes:

(1-2): Isentropic Compression in pump; (2-3): Constant pressure heat addition in Boiler;

(3-4): Isentropic expansion in Turbine; (4-1): Constant pressure heat rejection in

A thermal power plant contains Boiler and Turbine. Steam is generated in the Boiler
using the heat of the fuel burned in the combustion chamber. The steam generated is
passed through steam turbine where part of the thermal energy is converted into
mechanical energy which is further used for generation of electric power. The steam
coming out of turbine is condensed in the condenser and condensate is supplied back
to the boiler with the help of feed pump.

The total scheme of a typical thermal power station

The thermal power plant consists of mainly 4 circuits:

Coal and Ash circuit

Air and gas circuit
Water and Steam circuit
Cooling water circuit.

Coal and Ash circuit:

In this circuit, the coal from the storage is fed to the boiler through coal
handling equipment for the generation of steam. Ash produced due to the combustion to
coal is removed to ash storage through ash handling system.
Air and Gas circuit:
Air is supplied to the combustion chamber of thee boiler either through
Forced Draught or Induced draft fan or by using both. The dust from the air is removed
before supplying to the combustion chamber. The exhaust gases carrying sufficient
quantity of heat and ash are passed through the air-heater where the exhaust heat of
the gases is given to the air and then it is passed through the dust collectors where

most of the dust is removed before exhausting the gases to the atmosphere through
Feed Water and Steam Circuit:
The steam generated in the boiler is fed to the steam prime mover to
develop the power. The steam coming out of the prime mover is condensed in the
condenser and then fed to the boiler with the help of pump. The condensate is heated in
the feed-water heaters using the steam tapped from the different points of the turbine.
The feed heaters may be of mixed type or indirect heating type.
Cooling Water Circuit:
The quantity of cooling water to condensate the steam is considerably
large and it is taken from lake, river or sea. The cooling water is taken from the upper
side of the river, it is passed through the condenser and heated water is discharged to
the lower side of the river. Such system of the cooling water supply is possible if
adequate cooling water is available throughout the year. This system is known as open
system. When the adequate water is not available, then the cooling water coming out of
the condenser is cooled either in the cooling pond or cooling towers. This system is
known as closed system.