There are many residential, commercial, and industrial customers of electrical power systems in the United States today. To meet this vast demand for electrical power, power companies work in combination to produce tremendous quantities of electrical power. This vast quantity of electrical power is supplied by power generating plants. Individual generating units that supply over 1000 megawatts of electrical power are now in operation at some power plants.
Electrical power can be produced in many ways, such as from chemical reactions, heat, light, or mechanical energy. The great majority of our electrical power is produced by power plants located throughout our country, which convert the energy produced by burning coal, oil, or natural gas, by falling water, or by nuclear reactions into electrical energy. Electrical generators at these power plants are driven by steam or gas turbines, or by hydraulic turbines in the case of hydroelectrical plants. This chapter will investigate the types of power systems that produce the great majority of the electrical power used today.
The power plants may be located near the energy sources, near cities, or near the large industries where great amounts of electrical power are consumed. The generating capacity of power plants in the United States is greater than the combined capacity of the next four leading countries of the world. Thus, we can see how dependent we are upon the efficient production of electrical power
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