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An inside view of a power station

December 26, 2012

Most power stations in Texas use oil or coal as fuel, while a handful of them use eco-friendly natural gas to produce electricity. The common element of all these stations is a big boiler where the chosen fuel is used to boil water and generate steam. The steam thus produced, is then taken under high pressure to the turbine via metal pipes. Once the steam makes the turbine spin, its shaft, which is linked to a turbo generator, converts the mechanical energy (spinning) into electricity. If you are wondering what makes the shaft spin, the answer lies in the blades of a turbine fan. Inside the turbine housing, there are several blades placed angularly similar to the blades of a fan. The shaft of the turbine is attached to these blades. Once the blades are hit by the steam, they start moving, which results the turbine’s shaft to spin. After going through the turbine, the steam is taken to a cooling tower where it cools off and turns to water again. Sometimes, you may find huge white clouds above the cooling towers, which many mistake to be the smoke. However, in reality, it’s the steam. The hot pipes, on coming in contact with cool air, heat up some water vapor in the air, which in turn converts to steam. This is what is seen above the cooling towers sometimes. Apart from fuels mentioned above, nuclear energy can also be used to heat water inside such power stations and produce electricity. The STP or South Texas Project is one such power station that uses nuclear energy for power generation. Geothermal power stations, which use hot water or steam found naturally below the earth’s surface, and don’t need to burn a fuel, are yet another type of power plants. Such power stations usually use three types of methods to generate power. The “dry steam” method is suitable when extremely hot water is available in the form of steam, which is capable of driving a steam turbine. An injection well is used to get the water (minus some that has escaped in the form of steam) into the thermal reservoir to sustain the resource. The most ideal method for electricity generation is called “flash steam”, which vaporizes water above 360°F by releasing it into a lower-pressure tank from the pressurized reservoir. “Binary cycle” – the third method, uses less superheated water (200° to 360°F), which is made to go through a heat exchanger to vaporize another liquid (like isobutane) having a lower boiling point that drives the turbine. Cal-pine based in Houston, Texas is the largest geothermal energy producer in the U.S. But experts believe that the full potential of Texas’ geothermal electricity production is yet to be explored and realized. However, considering that Texas’ economy will be considerably affected by geothermal energy, research is accelerating into finding ways of tapping into this energy source. About Shop Texas Electricity- Shop Texas Electricity helps consumers and businesses compare and shop for their electricity plans in Texas. Learn more about Shop Texas Electricity by visiting us at www.ShopTexasElectricity.com

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