The challanges of the electrical design of a power plant
By 2040 global energy consumption is expected to grow by 28% according to the 2017 International Energy Outlook. The energy sector is therefore faced with a major challenge: meeting the global energy need. In modern society, human beings cannot live without electricity so the power plant has an essential and strategic role.
The operation of technological devices in the home such as refrigeration, means of transport such as airplanes, machinery in critical infrastructures such as hospitals would be unthinkable without electricity.
The power plant is the industrial facility where the electrical power is generated. Electricity is a secondary energy source as it derives from the transformation of primary energy sources. Primary sources can be used directly, without any type of treatment: coal, sun, wind, uranium, oil are some of them. As well there are different types of power plants, which are classified depending on the type of fuel is used in the process.
A power plant can be classified depending on the type of fuel used in the generation process. In a nuclear power plant, uranium and thorium are used as the primary fuel. The hydroelectric power harnesses the gravitational force of flowing water. In the thermal power plant, electricity is produced by the combustion of oil, coal or natural gas. Geothermal power plants exploit the energy in the Earth’s crust. Wind and solar power plants use solar or wind energy.
The primary objective of power plants is obviously the correct functioning of the entire plant so that there are no interruptions in the production of energy. The reliable and safe supply of energy is the top priority. Any eventual failure of the plant would cause both material and moral damages.
The entity that transmits electricity from generation plants to local distribution networks, passing through the electricity grid is the Transmission system operator. Natural disasters and imbalances in the generation or in the consumption of energy are the main sources of concern. For this reason, regional and national transmission system operators are interconnected to minimize the event of network failure.
The roles of the TSO in an electricity market include managing the security of the energy system in real time and coordinating the supply and demand for electricity that avoids fluctuations in frequency or interruptions of supply.
It is required that the System Operator maintain a continuous (second to second) balance between the power supply of the power plants and the demand of the consumers, and also ensure the provision of reserves that allow sudden contingencies. The System Operator achieves this by determining the optimal combination of generating stations and reserve providers for each trading period in the market, instructing generators when and how much electricity to generate. Managing any contingent event that causes the disruption of the balance between the supply and demand is also essential.
In the event of a breakdown or an unexpected interruption, it is important that the electrical installation guarantees sufficient emergency supply at least to ensure that the equipment is stopped. Improper grounding, inadequate wiring or poor maintenance practices are the most common issues which are affecting the quality of the of the power supply.
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