A power plant is an industrial facility that produces electricity from primary energy sources. Most power plants use one or more generators to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy to supply the power grid for society's electrical needs. Solar power plants are the exception, as they use photovoltaic cells instead of turbines to generate electricity. Primary energy sources include crude oil, gasoline, heating fuel, diesel, propane, biofuels, and natural gas liquids. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) provides data on exploration and reserves, storage, imports and exports, production, prices, sales, revenues and prices, fuel use, inventories, generation, trade, demand and emissions.
It also provides information on energy use in homes, commercial buildings, manufacturing and transportation; reserves, production, prices, employment and productivity; distribution; stocks; imports and exports; international energy information; regional energy information; maps by energy source and subject; forecast maps; tools for customizing searches; viewing specific data sets; studying detailed documentation; accessing time series data; free and open EIA data as APIs, Excel add-ins, bulk files and widgets; forms used to collect energy data; feeds to receive updates on EIA products; short articles with graphics about energy facts, problems and trends; lesson plans; science fair experiments; field trips; teacher guide and career corner; reports requested by Congress or considered important. An electric generator is a device that converts a form of energy into electricity. There are many different types of electricity generators. Most of the world's electricity generation comes from generators based on the discovery by scientist Michael Faraday in 1831 that moving a magnet inside a coil of wire induces an electrical current to flow through the cable. This led to the design of the electromagnetic generators we use today. Electromagnetic generators use an electromagnet - a magnet produced by electricity - not a traditional magnet.
A basic electromagnetic generator has a series of insulated wire coils that form a stationary cylinder called a stator that surrounds an electromagnetic axis called a rotor. As the rotor rotates, an electrical current flows in each section of the wire coil which becomes a separate electrical conductor. The currents in the individual sections combine to form a large current which is the electricity that passes from generators to consumers through power lines. Electromagnetic generators driven by kinetic (mechanical) main motors account for almost all U. S.
electricity generation. Combustion gas turbines burn gaseous or liquid fuels to produce hot gases that cause the turbine blades to rotate. Combined heat and power (CHP) plants - also known as cogenerators - use heat that is not directly converted to electricity in a steam turbine, combustion turbine or internal combustion engine generator for the heat of industrial processes or to heat spaces and water. Most of the largest cogeneration plants in the United States are located in industrial facilities such as pulp and paper mills but they are also used in many colleges, universities and government facilities. Cogeneration and combined cycle power plants are among the most efficient ways to convert fuel into useful energy.
Ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) systems use a temperature difference between ocean water at different depths to power a turbine and produce electricity. Other types of electricity generators include solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and internal combustion engines. Internal combustion engines such as diesel engines are used around the world to generate electricity including in many remote villages in Alaska. They are also widely used for mobile power on construction sites and for emergency or backup power for buildings and power plants. Generators with diesel engines can use oil, diesel, liquid biomass-based fuels and biogas, natural gas or propane. Small internal combustion engine generators fueled by gasoline, natural gas or propane are commonly used by construction crews and retailers as well as an emergency power supply for homes.
Other types of electricity generators include fuel cells, Stirling engines (used in solar thermal generators with parabolic plates) and thermoelectric generators. Energy storage systems for electricity generation include hydropumped storage, compressed air storage, electrochemical batteries and flywheels. These energy storage systems use electricity to charge a storage facility or device but the amount of electricity they can supply is less than the amount they use to charge so their net electricity generation is counted as negative to avoid double counting the use of electricity to charge the storage system. Nuclear power plants generate large amounts of electricity using nuclear fission reactions with uranium as fuel. Nuclear power plants are considered low-carbon sources of energy making them more environmentally friendly than fossil-fueled power plants. They require low amounts of fuel but produce large amounts of energy making them particularly efficient once they are in operation. Hydroelectric plants emit less greenhouse gases than fossil-fueled power plants but require enormous investment for their construction.
Coal-fired power plants use steam coal as a source to generate electricity emitting significant amounts of harmful gases.