How is electricity produced? page 2

But to enable the magnetic field to spin, a force is needed. Most power generators have turbines that are connected to the magnet, so that the spinning will be caused first by the blades of the turbine. What will cause the spinning motion depends on the type of energy source: coal-fired, diesel oil, wind-powered, hydroelectric, gas turbine, nuclear (uranium), geothermal, solar or others.

We can use actual motion or steam to spin the turbine. Wind-mills use the spinning motion to push the turbine blades and turn the copper coil in the generator and eventually generate electric current. The same principle applies to hydroelectric turbine or wheel, where water flows provide the force to move the turbine blades.

In case of fuel-powered plants, a boiler is set up to burn fuel and produce heat, which will transform water stored in long vertical tubes into steam. As the water begins to boil, the highly pressurized steam rises through the pipes and blows against the turbine blades, causing the spinning motion. Fuel includes natural gas, coal and diesel. The same principle of spinning the turbine blades through steam pressures applies to plants powered by nuclear, geothermal, solar and biomass energy. Steam turbines spin at about 3,600 revolutions per minute.

With the spinning motion of the turbine and the copper coil, electricity is generated and runs through the wires or electric circuit which is connected to our homes via transformers. When electricity flows through a light bulb's filament, the electricity appears as light. Power plants' transformers increase the voltage of the electricity to make it travel through the distribution lines more efficiently until the electricity reaches to substations where separate transformers reduce the voltage again for consumer use. Electricity travels at lightning speed.

Households regulate the use of electricity by switches, which open or close the electricity circuit. Basically, electricity consumption is measured by a unit of power called watts. A kilowatt is equal to 1,000 watts. The unit kilowatthour, on the other hand, represents the use of electricity for a certain number of hours.

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