Electricity is a type of energy involving the movement of charged particles. It has always been around but even today we struggle to understand exactly what electricity is.
For years electricity has been a source of wonder and amazement to scientists. Whilst science has known about its existence, scientists have found it hard to explain exactly what electricity is. Electricity has no weight but can lift and move thousands of tonnes, it has no shape but is everywhere.
The basic unit of electricity is the watt, named after the Scottish inventor James Watt (1736-1819), who perfected the steam engine and the rotary engine. Watt also coined the term “horsepower” as a measure of how much work an engine was performing. The watt, on the other hand, is the unit of power in the metric system. A watt is the amount of power that is delivered when a current of one ampere flows through an electric circuit and a voltage of one volt exists across it. It is quite a small unit of power. Typically, household lighting draws between 20 and 100 watts. Household appliances like hair dryers, toasters, heaters and kettles draw 500 to 1500 watts of power. A household electrical bill is measured in kilowatt hours. A kilowatt is 1,000 watts. If you operated a 1,000 watt heater for an hour you would have used a kilowatt hour of electricity. Power station output is measured in millions of watts or megawatts. A 200 megawatt unit generates enough electricity to supply a city the size of Bendigo at peak times or a city the size of Geelong at quieter times.
The Pelican Point Power Station uses an ingenious method of electricity generation. It is a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) Power Station. In essence it recycles its fuel to maximise its electricity output, thereby increasing the energy efficiency of the station (efficiency refers to how well the power station transforms energy from gas to electricity). The process of generating electricity at Pelican Point power station works like this:
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The Ancient Greeks
The simultaneous generation of heat and electricity, typically where the need for both arises for industrial or commercial purposes.
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