How electricity and heat are produced
Electricity has been used by people for just over 100 years.
Electricity, a refined form of energy, can be generated in different ways. The most common is to convert heat or potential energy into electricity.
The illustration above shows how a hydro power plant works.
Hydro power plant
Heat is produced by heating water to make steam. This process can be fuelled by coal, oil, gas, peat, uranium, biofuel or waste. The resulting steam drives a turbine, which in turn powers a generator.
Potential energy is found in water that runs from a higher to a lower level. This energy causes the turbine in a hydro power plant to rotate, and the turbine powers a generator. In this case, potential energy is converted to kinetic energy and transformed into electricity inside the generator.
Wind power works in a similar way.
A solar cell converts the sun's rays into electricity.