Introduction: Steam/Thermal Power station
A steam/thermal power station uses heat energy generated from burning coal to produce electrical energy. This type of power station is widely used around the world.
This power station uses the Rankine cycle. This is the cycle of the steam produced in the boiler, then taken to the Steam turbine (prime mover). From the turbine the steam is cooled back to water in the Condenser, the resulting water is fed back into the boiler to repeat the cycle.
Because of the abundance of fuel (coal), this kind of power station can be used to produce large amounts of electrical energy. In most countries these power stations are used as base load power stations. This is because steam power stations are slow to start and can not be used to cater for peak loads that generally occur for a short duration.
These power stations (together with nuclear power stations) are kept running very close to full efficiency for 24 hours a day (unless they are being maintained). They have typical life of 30 to 40 years (although most governments have reduced this number to 35 years).
Pros & Cons: what this power station presents
|Cheap coal is used
||Air pollution from smoke fumes
|Can be installed anywhere near fuel & water supply
||Costs more to run compared with other types of power stations
|Requires less construction space
|Cost for Generation is less
Future generations will have to learn to depend less and less on this type of electricity generating power station, due to a fast increasing depletion of fuels (coal and oil). As other types of power stations become more efficient it should be possible to completely abandon the use of this type of power station.