Electric Power Generation

    Mathematical Background

    Mathematical Preliminaries

    Introduction to Electromagnetic Theory

    Introduction to Electromagnetic Theory

    Introduction to Electricity

    Introduction to Electricity

    Introduction to Electrical Power Systems

    Introduction to Electrical Power Systems

    Power Plant Design Manual
    AscenTrust Power Plant Design Manual



    Electricity generation is the process of generating electric power from other sources of primary energy. The fundamental principles of electricity generation were discovered during the 1820s and early 1830s by the British scientist Michael Faraday. His basic method is still used today: electricity is generated by the rotation of a loop of wire between the poles of a magnet. For electric utilities, it is the first step in the process to the delivery of electricity to consumers. The other processes, transmission, distribution, and retailing are normally carried out by the electric power industry.

    Electricity is most often generated at a power station by electromechanical generators, primarily driven by heat engines fueled by chemical combustion or nuclear fission. This outline will only consider these methods of energy production.


    Emergency and standby power systems are designed to provide an alternate source of power if the normal source of power, most often the serving utility, should fail. As such, reliability of these types of systems is critical and good design practices are essential. Standby generator vary in capacity from a few Kilowatts to one or two megawatts of generating capacity.

    The first image below is a photograph of a standby generator for a co-location facility. The second image is a photograph of a standby generating facility in a large metropolitan hospital complex.


    For backup generation the prime mover for the development of mechanical power to drive the electrical generation equipment is through the combustion of diesel fuel.

    Cummings Generator

    In the modern era the natural gas turbine, operating in combined cycle mode, is the most reliable and cost effective method of producing electricity. The image below is a photograph of the assembling of a large Siemens turbine. This turbine in single cycle mode produces more than 200 Megawatts of electrical power.

    The image below is a rendering of the SGT-400, a natural gas burning, single cycle, modular Siemens turbine generator set. This package unit can produce up to 12.9 MW(e). This unit is transportable and easy to set up.

    Photovoltaics (PV) covers the conversion of light into electricity using semiconducting materials that exhibit the photovoltaic effect. A typical photovoltaic system employs solar panels, each comprising a number of solar cells, which generate electrical power. The first step is the photoelectric effect followed by an electrochemical process where crystallized atoms, ionized in a series, generate an electric current. PV installations may be ground-mounted, rooftop mounted or wall mounted. They may be mounted in a permanent orientation to maximize production and value or they may be mounted on trackers that follow the sun across the sky.

    The direct conversion of sunlight to electricity occurs without any moving parts. Photovoltaic systems have been used for fifty years in specialized applications, standalone and grid-connected PV systems have been in use for more than twenty years.

    On the other hand, grid-connected PV systems have the major disadvantage that the power output is dependent on direct sunlight, so about 10-25% is lost if a tracking system is not used, since the cell will not be directly facing the sun at all times. Power output is also adversely affected by weather conditions such as the amount of dust and water vapor in the air or the amount of cloud cover. This means that, in the national grid for example, this power has to be made up by other power sources: hydrocarbon, nuclear, hydroelectric or wind energy.

    Net metering and financial incentives, such as preferential feed-in tariffs for solar-generated electricity, have supported solar PV installations in many countries, including the U.S. After hydro and wind powers, PV is the third renewable energy source in terms of globally capacity.

    Hoover Dam, once known as Boulder Dam, is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, on the border between the states of Nevada and Arizona. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression and was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Its construction was the result of a massive effort involving thousands of workers, and cost over one hundred lives. The dam was named after President Herbert Hoover.

    Since about 1900, the Black Canyon and nearby Boulder Canyon had been investigated for their potential to support a dam that would control floods, provide irrigation water and produce hydroelectric power. In 1928, Congress authorized the project. The winning bid to build the dam was submitted by a consortium called Six Companies, Inc., which began construction on the dam in early 1931. Such a large concrete structure had never been built before, and some of the techniques were unproven. The torrid summer weather and lack of facilities near the site also presented difficulties. Nevertheless, Six Companies turned over the dam to the federal government on March 1, 1936, more than two years ahead of schedule.

    Hoover Dam impounds Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States by volume (when it is full). The dam is located near Boulder City, Nevada, a municipality originally constructed for workers on the construction project, about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada. The dam’s generators provide power for public and private utilities in Nevada, Arizona, and California.

    Following an uprating project from 1986 to 1993, the total gross power rating for the plant, including two 2.4 megawatt Pelton turbine-generators that power Hoover Dam’s own operations is a maximum capacity of 2.08 gigawatts. The annual generation of Hoover Dam varies. The maximum net generation was 10.348 TWh in 1984, and the minimum since 1940 was 2.648 TWh in 1956. The average power generated was 4.2 TWh/year for 1947-2008. In 2015, the dam generated 3.6 TWh.

    The images below are photographs of the Hoover Dam.

    The image below is a photograph of the generating room of the Hoover Dam generation facility.

    A nuclear power plant or nuclear power station is a thermal power station in which the heat source is a nuclear reactor. As is typical in all conventional thermal power stations the heat is used to generate steam which drives a steam turbine connected to an electric generator which produces electricity. As of 23 April 2014, the IAEA report there are 435 nuclear power reactors in operation operating in 31 countries. Nuclear power stations are usually considered to be base load stations, since fuel is a small part of the cost of production. Their operations and maintenance (O&M) and fuel costs are, along with hydropower stations, at the low end of the spectrum and make them suitable as base-load power suppliers.

    The images below are pictures of the South Texas Nuclear Project located just outside of Bay City, Texas.

    The image below is a photograph of the highline at the South Texas Nuclear Power Project. Also show in the background are the two nuclear reactors and portion of the switch-gear connected to the production facility.