How Is Electricity Made? A generator manufactures electricity. In a generator, something
causes the shaft and armature to spin. An electric current is generated,
as shown in the picture (lighting bolt).
Lots of things can be used to make a shaft spin - a pinwheel, a
crank, a bicycle, a water wheel, a diesel engine, or even a jet
engine. They're different sizes but it's the same general idea.
It doesn't matter what's used to spin the shaft - How is Electricity Made, is all the same.
Electric generators are essentially very large quantities of copper
wire spinning around inside very large magnets, at very high speeds.
A commercial utility electric generator -- for example, a 180-megawatt
generator at the Hawaiian Electric Company's Kahe power plant on Oahu
-- can be quite large. It is 20 feet in diameter, 50 feet long, and
weighs over 50 tons. The copper coils (called the "armature")
spin at 3600 revolutions per minute. Although the principle is simple
(copper wire and magnets), it's not necessarily easy!
Steam turbine generators, gas turbine generators, diesel engine generators,
alternate energy systems (except photovoltaics), even nuclear power
plants all operate on the same principle - magnets plus copper wire
plus motion equals electric current. The electricity produced is the
same, regardless of source.
When it comes to How Is Electricity made, power stations need large amounts of energy to turn the turbines. Most use heat energy produced from burning coal. Others use wind energy or moving water. The spinning turbine causes large magnets to turn within wire coils - these are the generators. The moving magnets within the coil of wire causes the electrons (charged particles) to move within the coil of wire. This is electricity.
Steam turbine generators, gas turbine generators, diesel engine generators, alternate energy systems (except photovoltaics), even nuclear power plants all operate on the same principle - magnets plus copper wire plus motion equals electric current. The electricity produced is the same, regardless of source.
How Is Electricity made? It is not important to consumers, who expect their electricity to be available whenever they plug in an appliance,
turn a switch, or open a refrigerator. Satisfying these instantaneous demands
requires an uninterrupted flow of electricity. In order to meet this requirement,
utilities and nonutility electricity power producers operate several types
of electric generating units, powered by a wide range of fuel sources. These
include fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and petroleum), uranium, and renewable
fuels (water, geothermal, wind, and other renewable energy sources).
So, when it comes to How Is Electricity Made, where do all the different fuels come in when it comes to How Electricity Is Made? It's all
a question of how to get (and keep) the system moving (i.e.
how to keep the copper wire spinning around).
In a steam power plant, fuels (such as petroleum,
coal, or biomass) are burned to heat water which turns into
steam, which goes through a turbine, which spins...turning
the copper wire (armature) inside the generator and generating
an electric current.
How Is Electricity Made