The modern era of civilization relies on a number of technological inventions for society’s comfort, productivity, security, and stability. The Internet is certainly one of them, as are telephones, cars, radios, television, and the printing press. The biggest of all, though, might be electricity.
You likely don’t even notice or think about electricity except when it’s gone. The rest of the time, you can turn on lights when needed, run your heating or air conditioning, vacuum your floors, play a video game, or just charge up your phone.
Local and regional utilities produce that electricity in a number of ways. Nuclear power accounts for some of this generation, as do solar panels and farms. Natural gas is sometimes burned for power, and in some areas, geographic features like geothermal power or hydropower are possible, respectively harnessing the power of the Earth’s interior heat or moving water.
The rest of the nation’s electricity is generated by coal which adds a large demand for electricians . Do you ever wonder just how does coal produce electricity? Every coal-fired plant has its own design and set up, but there are general principles that hold true to most of them.
Coal is put in a massive chamber, where it is ignited. As it burns, it heats up water flowing nearby in pipes. The heat is absorbed by the water, which turns into high-pressure steam. This steam is used to propel turbines into spinning at high speeds, turning huge magnets they are attached to. These are what produce the electric current that is sent out to the homes and businesses of the region the plant services.
Coal is efficient and effective as a source of electricity, so an advantage is that it’s very cheap. Another benefit is the fact that the nation has tremendous domestic resources of coal that can be mined and burned. This provides economic stability, which does not always happen in the petroleum and oil markets, given that political instability in oil-drilling regions like the Middle East, Nigeria, or Venezuela can drive up the price of a barrel quickly.
There are downsides to coal. The industry has peaked, it would seem, as there is growing emphasis on green and renewable sources of power, or at least cleaner ones. The falling price and wide availability of natural gas have also cut into the sector. Coal also comes with an environmental price, as the coal ash must be disposed of somewhere, the reaction puts pollutants and particulates into the air, and even thermal pollution happens from the water heated up.