It’s almost impossible to live a normal life without electricity. No wonder that, despite the threats to the environment, power generation, specifically electricity generation, is still continuous. But we all need the power industry even the steam turbine to create electric power for our “normal living.” If not, the world will surely stop its normal day-to-day living.
Despite the environmental dangers, there is surely a power industry that does not only care about more electricity generation, thermal power, or backup power. It must care for more efficient power generation too. This way, power plants can make the most of Mother Nature’s sacrifice for us to have electricity either through wind or solar energy. With increased power generation efficiency, we can enjoy more electric power without increasing the harm to the environment.
But how can power plants improve the efficiency of power generation? Actually, the methods will depend on the power source. Improving efficiency of electricity generation from the wind will be very different from the solar power.
There are two general ways to improve efficiency of power generation—through improving the efficiency of power plants or by improving the turbine design. When the power plant chooses to improve its efficiency for better power generation, the needed processes will still depend upon the kind of power plant.
Here are some ways of improving power generation efficiency for coal-fired power plants:
- Increasing the temperature difference between the entering steam and the exiting turbines. This process can increase the process called thermodynamic efficiency, which could help in producing more work from the steam.
- Avoiding liquid-to-vapor phase change. This phase needs more energy so that the breaking of intermolecular liquid bonds will be possible. But when the phase change is avoided, the energy, which should have been used for the phase change, can contribute to increasing the temperature as well as the fluid pressure.
- Raising the steam temperature in the ultrasupercritical boiler. This way, the temperature is pushed beyond the required temperature and the overflowing heat can be used to add to the electricity production.
Meanwhile, gas-fired plants use their combustion chamber to generate electricity. However, this process also expels high-temperature exhaust gases to the air. Instead of wasting the energy, the power plant can use the exhaust gases in producing steam for more efficient power generation.
For power plants that have combined heat and power, they should make sure that the heat used on site or rather close to the site so that the energy from the heat will not be transferred and be a waste. Aside from improving power plants, improving the turbine design can help in power generation efficiency also.
Studies were conducted to prove the relation between more efficient power generation and turbine design. For example, it has been found that the use of super alloys for turbine blades can help in producing more electric power. With these methods, improving the efficiency of power generation is very possible. Our future depends on more efficient methods of power production so that our environment doesn’t have to suffer so much for our so-called normal living.