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Sustainability

How do we generate it?

All in a Spin

Power and Energy Concepts Energy is generated from both fossil fuels and renewable energy sources.

In a Flash

Electricity Generation

Electricity for powering our homes, schools and businesses is made in power stations. Spinning turbines turn large magnets within wire coils - this causes electrons to move, which results in electricity.

Turbine Generator Diagram Turbine generators turn, spinning giant magnets within copper coils to create energy.

Burning Questions

How is electricity made?

Electricity is a secondary energy source – we get it from the conversion of other sources of energy, such as coal, natural gas, oil, nuclear power and other natural sources. These are called primary energy sources.

The process of generating electricity to use for power takes place in power stations. Here's an overview of how it works:

  1. Large machines called turbines are turned very quickly – this requires a lot of energy, such as heat, wind or moving water.
  2. The spinning turbines cause large magnets to turn within copper wire coils – these are the generators.
  3. The moving magnets within the coil of wire cause electrons (charged particles) to move within the wire – this is electricity.
Industrial Landscape Different types of generators are used to create energy.

Are there different types of generators?

Yes, there are many different types of generators used to produce electricity.

These include:

  • Steam turbine generators
  • Gas turbine generators
  • Diesel engine generators
  • Alternate energy systems
  • Nuclear power plants

While they may be different, all these generators operate on the same principle:
Magnets + copper wire + spinning motion = electric current

The electricity produced is the same, regardless of source.

Power Lines Electricity travels to users through transmission lines and substations.

How does electricity reach our homes?

From power stations, electricity flows to large transmission lines held up by huge towers. These lines carry large amounts of electricity to substations in cities and towns.

From the substations, distribution lines carry smaller amounts of electricity to houses and businesses.

What Do You Mean?

Electrical energy is caused by moving electric charges called electrons.

Electricity is a type of energy that comes from electrical energy.

Power stations are where electricity is generated.

Turbines are machines for producing continuous power. In power stations, turbines are turned using energy from sources such as heat, wind and moving water.

Generators are machines for converting motion energy into electricity.

Cool Facts

Electricity travels at the speed of light – that's almost 300,000 kilometres per second!

Cool Facts

Coal is the world's' biggest source of energy for producing electricity.

Speedy Summary

The electricity we use in our homes, schools and businesses is generated in power stations. Here, spinning turbines turn large magnets within wire coils. This causes electrons to move, which results in electricity.

Why did the gardener plant a light bulb?

He thought he would get a power plant!