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Energy - Intro

Potential Energy

Kinetic energy

Chemical energy: enthalpy

Heat energy

Electric energy

Nuclear Energy

Power stations

Conservation of Energy



Generating electrical energy

That means, converting other forms of energy into electrical energy. According to the energy section, energy cannot be created or generated. It can only be converted from another form. However the title uses the term generating because it is very common in TV, newspapers, etc...

Kinetic energy can be converted into electrical energy by using an electrical generator, which is the inverse of the electric motor, which converts electric energy into kinetic energy.

A turbine is often used to power the electric generator.

The turbine can be powered by the force of a waterfall (gravitational potential energy of water is converted into kinetic energy and then into electrical energy). This process is carried out at hydroelectrical power stations:

Hydroelectrical power plant in the Spanish pirineo region, showing the dam on the right (to keep the water at a high level) and the resulting cascade on the left hand side.

The turbine can also be powered by the wind. These are called wind turbines and they are found in sites called wind farms:


Wind farm in France, in the region of the "route du ble"

The turbine can also be powered by a fuel, similarly to the case of airplane engines (jet engines). The fuel used for this purpose is gas. An example of a power plant that uses gas powered turbines is found in the centre of Gothenburg (Sweden):


In many cases the turbine is powered by steam. Water must be heated in order to produce steam, and that can be done in different ways:

coal fired power stations: the water is heated by burning coal

nuclear power stations: the water is heated by the heat released by nuclear reactions:


Nuclear power plant in the French coast, close to Dieppe.

In certain places of the earth, there is a lot of heat in the ground, close to the surface. In these situations, that water (or sometimes another fluid) can be heated by the internal heat of the earth. Power plants that use this principle are called geothermal.

Geothermal power stations, wind farms and hydroelectrical power stations don't require an input of fuel to work. They are called renewable sources of energy.