Term: Fossil fuel power station

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**Types of Fossil Fuel Power Plants:**
– Fossil fuel power plants convert chemical energy into thermal, mechanical, and electrical energy.
– Steam turbine power plants burn fuel in a furnace, produce hot gases flowing through a boiler, and convert water to steam to power a turbine.
– Gas turbine power plants use a combined cycle with a heat recovery steam generator to enhance efficiency.
– Reciprocating engines like diesel and spark-ignition engines are used for power generation in various applications.

**Fuels for Power Generation:**
– Coal is the most abundant fossil fuel and is used in thermal power stations, but it produces more greenhouse gases than oil or natural gas.
– Natural gas is increasingly replacing coal in some countries due to lower carbon dioxide emissions.
– Oil was significant for power generation but has been displaced by coal and natural gas; it is still used in diesel engine power plants in isolated areas.

**Environmental Impacts of Fossil Fuel Power Plants:**
– Thermal power plants produce toxic gases and particulate matter, contributing to acid rain, air pollution, and global warming.
– Coal combustion emits particulates, leading to respiratory and cardiac health issues.
– Coal-fired power plants are a major source of industrial wastewater, and coal ash contaminates groundwater with toxic elements.

**Mitigation and Conversion of Fossil Fuel Power Plants:**
– Methods like carbon capture and storage aim to reduce emissions, and renewable energy sources can replace fossil fuels.
– Mitigation strategies include converting power plants to use energy crops, biogas, or hydrogen, and emphasizing clean coal technologies.
– Transitioning to a hydrogen economy and phasing out fossil fuel power plants are vital for preventing global warming and reducing carbon emissions.

**Cost Analysis and Transition to Renewable Energy:**
– Factors like capital, operating, and maintenance costs, as well as external costs, are considered when analyzing power plant costs.
– The relative cost by generation source is crucial in evaluating the economic feasibility of different power generation methods.
– Transitioning to renewable energy sources like solar and wind power is essential for reducing the social costs and health impacts associated with burning fossil fuels.

A fossil fuel power station is a thermal power station which burns a fossil fuel, such as coal or natural gas, to produce electricity. Fossil fuel power stations have machinery to convert the heat energy of combustion into mechanical energy, which then operates an electrical generator. The prime mover may be a steam turbine, a gas turbine or, in small plants, a reciprocating gas engine. All plants use the energy extracted from the expansion of a hot gas, either steam or combustion gases. Although different energy conversion methods exist, all thermal power station conversion methods have their efficiency limited by the Carnot efficiency and therefore produce waste heat.

The 5,400 MW Bełchatów Power Station in Poland – one of the world's largest coal-fired power stations.
Share of electricity production from fossil fuels

2021 world electricity generation by source. Total generation was 28 petawatt-hours.

  Coal (36%)
  Natural gas (23%)
  Hydro (15%)
  Nuclear (10%)
  Wind (7%)
  Solar (4%)
  Other (5%)

Fossil fuel power stations provide most of the electrical energy used in the world. Some fossil-fired power stations are designed for continuous operation as baseload power plants, while others are used as peaker plants. However, starting from the 2010s, in many countries plants designed for baseload supply are being operated as dispatchable generation to balance increasing generation by variable renewable energy.

By-products of fossil fuel power plant operation must be considered in their design and operation. Flue gas from combustion of the fossil fuels contains carbon dioxide and water vapor, as well as pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), and, for coal-fired plants, mercury, traces of other metals, and fly ash. Usually all of the carbon dioxide and some of the other pollution is discharged to the air. Solid waste ash from coal-fired boilers must also be removed.

Fossil fueled power stations are major emitters of carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas which is a major contributor to global warming. The results of a recent study show that the net income available to shareholders of large companies could see a significant reduction from the greenhouse gas emissions liability related to only natural disasters in the United States from a single coal-fired power plant. However, as of 2015, no such cases have awarded damages in the United States. Per unit of electric energy, brown coal emits nearly twice as much CO2 as natural gas, and black coal emits somewhat less than brown. As of 2019, carbon capture and storage of emissions is not economically viable for fossil fuel power stations, and keeping global warming below 1.5 °C is still possible but only if no more fossil fuel power plants are built and some existing fossil fuel power plants are shut down early, together with other measures such as reforestation.

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