How Georgia Power Generates Electricity
Georgia Power has a number of different types of electric generating plants in its fleet. The diversity of fuels used in these plants enables us to provide a reliable power supply for our customers.
Traditional fuel sources such as coal, natural gas, hydro and nuclear are used on a consistent basis to generate the massive amounts of energy demand for our industrial, commercial and residential customers. We are also exploring exciting new opportunities in energy generating sources like solar, wind and biomass.
Georgia Power will continue to be challenged to meet the ever-increasing energy demands of our customers. We are dedicated to providing reliable and environmentally conscious energy for many years to come.
Coal Generation & Natural Gas
Coal makes electricity through combustion. The coal is pulverized into a fine powder or gasified state. The fuel burns in a large furnace that superheats water into pressurized steam. The steam carries tremendous force, which is used to turn turbine blades that spin electric generators. The steam is then condensed back into water and returned to the system for reuse.
The byproducts of combustion leaving the plant are in the form of gas emissions or solids residue called particulates. Close to 99 percent of particulates are removed by equipment called electrostatic precipitators. Many coal plants are also fitted with additional emission control technologies that help minimize the quantities and impacts of gaseous emissions.
When natural gas is used to generate electricity it is typically burned in gas turbine plants or combined cycle plants. Gas turbines don’t use steam to turn the turbine. Instead, they uses gas or oil combined with high temperature pressurized air to create the force that moves the turbine blades.
Our hydro plants use water and gravity to create electricity. The water is stored in a reservoir behind a dam. When power is needed, gates are opened and gravity pushes the water in the reservoir through the dam, moving the turbine blades of the generator. Hydro power removes no water from the river and produces no solid wastes or air emissions.
Nuclear plants make electricity by heating water into pressurized steam that spins turbine blades and turns generators. The heat comes from the nuclear fission process.
Fission is the splitting of atoms into smaller parts. As atoms split and collide, they heat up. This process of energy release is called a chain reaction. The plant uses this heat to create steam and pressure which turns a turbine connected to a generator. The plant controls the chain reaction to keep it from releasing too much energy too fast.
Nuclear plants vary in design but are based on the same scientific process of fission. Nuclear plants do not produce greenhouse gas emissions and have the advantage of being easily able to isolate their waste, in the form of spent fuel, from the environment.
Our traditional fuel sources are the mainstay of our generation mix, but we are continuing to explore less traditional technologies as well as advanced technologies. Our future focus allows Georgia Power to plan for a more diverse energy portfolio and includes renewable resources like biomass, wind and solar.
Biomass utilizes materials like wood pulp or switch grass, which are burned in a boiler furnace to turn water into steam, which then turns the blades of a turbine. These waste materials become a useful source of fuel and have emissions lower than or equal to coal.
Wind technology utilizes the power of the wind to turn turbine blades. Potentially favorable conditions exist for wind power in select areas of the Southeast; however, cost and regulatory issues need further exploration.
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