power plant

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The combined heat and power plant (gas-fired power plant) in Berlin-Mitte is used not only to generate electricity but also to supply district heating to the government district.

A power plant (outdated term: electricity plant , today also power generation plant ) is a technical system for power generation and in some cases provides additional thermal energy . In a power plant, mechanical energy is converted into electrical energy by means of generators , which is fed into the power grid. The mechanical energy to drive the generators comes from in turn

There are also systems made up of many small units of the same type, for example photovoltaic systems . They are also called power plants, although they do not contain any moving parts and therefore kinetic energy does not appear as a form of energy in the conversion chain.

The respective primary energies are converted into electrical energy in these energy conversion chains with different degrees of efficiency .

All methods are in economic competition with each other and are partly politically promoted ( renewable energies : sun, water, wind, geothermal energy), partly additionally taxed (nuclear fission: fuel element tax ; combustion: carbon dioxide emissions ).

historical development

Transmission and belt-driven machines before the introduction of electric motors
The oldest preserved hydropower plant in Germany (1891) in Schöngeising . In the former East Prussian town of
Darkehmen , there had been a hydropower plant since 1886

Until the end of the 19th century, the energy required was generated by steam power, in addition to human and animal power. Steam engines were used to generate mechanical power that was transmitted to the machines in factories by means of transmissions . Other well-known energy sources were hydropower and wind power. These primary energy sources could only be used in the immediate vicinity.

It was only through the invention of the dynamo that the prerequisite was created to spatially separate the place of energy release from the place of energy consumption. The preferred inventor of the generator without permanent magnets is Werner von Siemens , who discovered the dynamo-electric principle in 1866 and equipped the first dynamo machine with it. Even before Siemens, however, Ányos Jedlik in 1851 and Søren Hjorth in 1854 had supplied the field magnets with the electricity generated by the machine itself and described this. The first patent was granted to Søren Hjorth in 1854. The first power plants were powered by steam engines, and electricity networks were created to distribute energy. In the current war , a system competition at the end of the 19th century between the methods of the type of current to be used, three-phase alternating current , a form of alternating current with three phases, prevailed with a few exceptions for power grids . With three-phase high-voltage transmission , larger transmission routes can be implemented in the form of extensive interconnected networks with acceptable transmission losses.

The burning of coal in steam boilers to generate electricity was quickly recognized as a further sales market by the mine operators. Starting from the coal mine power plants, the electricity was distributed to the neighboring industry and private households. After electricity was initially used primarily for lighting purposes, the general availability of energy led to new, innovative electricity-driven machines in industry and private households and thus to a further increase in electricity generation. Today, a highly developed state without power plants and an electricity grid is unthinkable.

Physical basics

Power plants convert non-electrical energy (thermal, mechanical, chemical, solar or even atomic energy) into electrical energy. The energy conversion is always associated with exergy losses . The energy used (fossil energy, radioactive substances, sun, wind , biomass , hydropower) forms the primary energy and the electricity forms the secondary energy . The electric current is a very high energy that is transferred very well far and into other forms of energy convert can. Since only part of the energy can be converted into electrical energy, there is always an unusable part of the energy that is released into the environment as entropy . The best known form of waste heat is the cooling tower swath . With solar energy, the silicon wafer heats up when the incident photon has not lifted an electron from the conduction band. In the case of hydropower, the friction slightly heats the service water.


Types of power plants

The following types of power plants are in use:

Mobile power plants:

At the experimental stage are:

In the experimental stage with regard to the physical principles are:

Technical procedures

Most important types of conversion into electrical energy.

The methods of converting the very different types of primary energy into electricity differ in terms of technical effort, efficiency and environmental impact. Some processes have a steam power plant as their core : Hot steam drives a steam turbine , which in turn drives a generator that generates the electricity. The efficiency is 46% and can - if gas is used as fuel - increase to 60% in a gas and steam combined cycle power plant .

Regardless of this, under favorable circumstances - if a large-scale purchaser of low-temperature heat is in the immediate vicinity - the waste heat from the steam cooling after the turbine can be used, which is known as combined heat and power . Steam power plants differ in the type of heat generation:

The steam turbine can be replaced by other types of drive:

A number of components belong to a power plant:

All these components are recorded and documented with the power plant identification system . This facilitates the clear assignment and naming of the components and has established itself internationally.

In all types of power plants in large-scale use in Europe today, the electrical energy is provided in the form of three-phase current with a frequency of 50 Hertz . However, in Germany, Austria and Switzerland some power plants have a second generator for traction current (single-phase alternating current with a frequency of 16.7 Hertz), although there are also power plants that only generate traction current (traction power plants ). In other parts of the world (mostly in America ) a frequency of 60 Hertz is used.


The efficiency of a power plant indicates the extent to which the primary energy used in it is made available as useful energy. This depends heavily on the technology used and ranges from approx. 35% in a nuclear power plant to 46% in (modern) hard coal power plants to 90% in hydropower plants .

Output of different types of power plants in Germany
Power plant type Installed
at the end of 2013
(in GW)
Gross electricity

in 2013
Share of
Efficiency 1)
Photovoltaic systems 35.9 31.0 4.9% ≈ 15%
Wind turbines 34.7 51.7 8.2% ≈ 50%
Hard coal power plants
including mixed firing
29.2 121.7 19.3% <46%
Lignite power plants 23.1 160.9 25.5% <44%
Gas power plants 26.7 67.4 10.7% GuD ~ 60% , gas <40%
Nuclear power plants 12.1 97.3 15.4% ≈ 35% 2)
Hydropower plants 10.3 26.8 3) 4.2% ≈ 90%
Biomass power plants 6.4 42.2 6.7% ≈ 40%
Oil power plants 2.9 7.2 1.1% ≈ 45%
Geothermal power plants 0.024 0.0 4) 1.6% ≈ 45%
Others 2.9 25.9 5) 4.1% ≈ 45%
total 188.9 632.1 100%
1)The specified efficiencies relate to the ratio of electrical energy supplied to the network to the primary energy used; Thermal power plants in particular have a considerable amount of own consumption (feed water pump!), which can easily amount to 5% of the electrical energy generated. In the case of additional heat extraction, utilization rates of up to 92% can be achieved with the first four types . The efficiency is of great relevance with high primary energy costs (e.g. oil and gas). If the primary energy is free (e.g. wind, sun, water) the investment costs per kW are decisive.
2)No clear efficiency can be given for nuclear power plants. For the purpose of comparison within the framework of international agreements, Agenda 21 specifies the efficiency of the secondary circuit in nuclear power plants, which does not correlate with the potential fission energy of the fuel. For the German energy statistics, an efficiency of 33% is calculated.
3) Of which regenerative (generation in run-of-river and storage hydropower plants and generation from natural inflow in pumped storage power plants): 21.0 TWh
4) Electricity generation from geothermal plants in Germany is still so low that rounded to one decimal place results in 0.0 TWh.
5)Including waste-to-energy plants 5.4 TWh, others 20.4 TWh.

Of the total net electricity generation of 594.3 TWh in 2013, 107.7 TWh were generated in cogeneration .

Networking the power plants

Typical curves of the spring electricity consumption during different days of the week (according to EWE) and use of the different types of power plants

Only geographically isolated power grids ( island grids ), for example on smaller, isolated islands, are supplied by a single power plant. If this is planned or unplanned, the power supply collapses and with it the local infrastructure, with serious consequences . In order to avoid such effects, an HVDC submarine cable was put into operation between the island of Gotland and the Swedish mainland as early as 1954 .

If the area to be supplied is sufficiently large, the total load is always distributed over many power plants:

Base load power plant

Base load power plants have low primary energy costs and can therefore generate cheap electricity. However, due to their high capital costs, they have to run as continuously as possible. They are also often difficult to regulate (example: lignite power plants) or cannot store their primary energy (example: run-of-river power plants).

In the case of power plant types that provide permanent energy, one also speaks of continuous wave or continuous wave power , in contrast to systems with time-changing power, such as solar power plants.

Medium load power plant

The predictable and daily recurring slow fluctuations of the electricity demand during the day are taken over by the medium load power plants. Many coal-fired power plants are operated in this way; that is, they arrive in the morning and leave in the evening.

Peak load power plant

Peak load power plants are used to absorb short-term load changes and for unforeseeable emergencies, which can quickly adapt electricity production to demand. Peak power plants can also be used as medium and base load power plants. However, their operating time is typically kept as short as possible, since they also cause the highest costs due to the higher fuel costs (e.g. oil and gas) or higher operating costs.

For example, some power plant types speak for their ability to start quickly and thus to compensate for load fluctuations in the power grid . Gas turbine power plants and certain types of hydropower plants can deliver their full power to the power grid from a standstill within a few minutes, steam power plants need a few hours for this process, and nuclear power plants a few days. For this reason, the latter are primarily used to cover the base load , while gas turbine and hydropower plants ( pumped storage power plants ) often take on the peak load in the network.

This decentralized power generation has been standard in all power grids such as the European network for decades , but in recent years it has been praised as a particular advantage of connecting micro power plants. Their upswing began in Germany with the Electricity Feed Act of 1991.

Control of the power plants

Control room of a power plant

The electricity consumption is not constant, power plants can fail and the power plant output can vary (see picture). Since the grid frequency would change too much without regulation , the instantaneous power of the connected power plants must be constantly adjusted.

The short-term power control, depending on the current grid frequency, must take place within seconds. For this purpose, certain thermal power plants are run slightly throttled, so that electricity generation can be increased by up to 5% within seconds by opening the control valves in the main steam line. An alternative is to reduce the preheating of the condensate from bleed steam and thus leave more steam in the turbine for generating electricity. This second option has the advantage that it does not affect the efficiency of the power plant as much as the live steam throttling. Both measures use very limited storage capacities (steam in the steam generator, water supply in the feed water tank ). So you can only compensate for very short-term fluctuations.

The power plant output cannot be adjusted as quickly as you like, times are between seven minutes for gas turbine power plants and a few hours. Accordingly, hydropower plants and gas-fired power plants have very steep load ramps , while coal and nuclear power plants have flat load ramps . The change in performance that can be absorbed is also limited. When, for example, on November 4, 2006, a high-voltage line that was transmitting 10,000 MW was switched off unexpectedly , the power plants in Northern and Eastern Europe generated too much power that was lacking in Western and Southern Europe. As a result, the entire European network disintegrated into small "islands" due to regional emergency shutdowns, which had to be laboriously synchronized again.

Control of consumers

Normally, the electricity consumer determines when and how much energy he takes from the grid. But there are also ways to balance the energy balance of a power grid with the help of consumers. Ripple control technology, which was invented as early as 1899, is traditionally used for this. Consumers such as hot water or heat storage heating systems can do without energy for a limited time without losing their function. Some industrial companies also conclude contracts with their electricity supplier in which they agree to occasionally switch off large electricity consumers for a limited time upon request (see also load shedding customers ). In Switzerland in particular, such systems have been used for over 50 years. In the meantime, digital solutions with greater flexibility are also being developed in this regard.

In connection with intelligent electricity meters , this possibility of network regulation is likely to gain great importance (see also intelligent electricity consumption ). The consumer places z. B. determines the maximum electricity price he wants to pay for his washing machine. The energy supplier can supply the intelligent electricity meter with current tariff information at any time. The intelligent electricity meter activates the washing machine's electrical circuit at the right time.

Properties of different types of power plants


There is no such thing as a “best” type of power plant, each with its own specific advantages and disadvantages. In particular, due to the high flexibility with regard to load adjustment, low location dependency, short construction times, low construction costs and relatively low emissions, electricity generation from natural gas with 83.7 GW was the front runner in terms of new power plant capacity between 2000 and 2008 in the EU, in second place was wind power with 55.2 GW.

Availability of primary energy

The choice of power plant type depends on many factors, with availability and the economic situation in the respective country being important. The following elementary individual questions arise:

  • What primary energies are there in your own country?
  • Which is the easiest to obtain in large quantities without high costs?
  • How high are the construction costs of a suitable power plant?
  • Is there a network?
  • Is the power plant reliable?
  • How high is the environmental impact in relation to the benefit?
  • Can by-products of the power plant such as waste heat be used sensibly?
  • What happens to the waste?

Existing mountains offer the opportunity to operate inexpensive hydropower plants. In Switzerland, for example, in 2008 52% of electricity was generated in hydropower plants, in Brazil around 84%, in Norway 98% and in Congo even over 99%. For weather-related reasons (precipitation), the proportion of hydropower energy usually changes from year to year.

Some primary energies such as wind, waves or sunlight are free and available in huge quantities worldwide. Their expansion is offset by problems such as location dependency, weather-dependent energy supply, resistance from established energy suppliers and the local population, and high investment costs. However, a lot of flexible hydropower capacity is already installed today (the global hydropower output is over 1000 GW), electricity can be transmitted over thousands of kilometers with low losses, the variation in wind power is short-term (so wind energy does not have to be stored over long periods of time), networked Wind farms deliver base load and reduced peak electricity and water and solar electricity behave counter-cyclically to wind electricity (more wind electricity and less photovoltaic and water electricity are generated in winter); therefore the integration of many more electricity producers who produce electricity with free primary energy is technologically solvable.

Choice of location

The industrial centers and large cities as large consumers of electricity are very unevenly scattered over the state. To avoid transmission losses, large power plants nearby are preferred. If possible, thermal power plants are usually built on rivers with sufficient water supply. Exceptions are lignite-fired power plants, which are built in the vicinity of the production sites to reduce transport costs.

Comparable problems are known from hydropower plants that were built far away from industrial centers, because this is where an extremely large amount of electrical power can be generated:

  • Most of the electricity produced by the Cahora-Bassa dam in Mozambique has to be sold to the neighboring Republic of South Africa by means of a 1,414-kilometer high-voltage direct current transmission (HVDC) because there are no major buyers nearby.
  • Most of the electrical energy generated in Paraguay by the even more powerful Itaipú hydropower plant is also transported from Paraguay via HVDC 850 km to São Paulo. This extreme dependence on a single major supplier led to the largest power outage in Brazil's history on November 16, 2009. The power supply in 18 of the 26 Brazilian states with around 60 million people failed for over five hours.

In principle, wind power plants can be set up in any open field, as material deliveries are rarely required for them during operation and because they feed the generated electricity into the low or medium voltage network due to their low output. However, due to the noise, a distance of several hundred meters to permanently inhabited houses must be maintained. The location of a wind turbine must have good stability, since wind turbines are heavy and have to withstand high loads in strong winds .

In the case of cogeneration, the highest overall efficiency - up to almost 100% - is achieved when the thermal output that always occurs is not subject to any further transport losses, ideally when it can be used for heating or process heat directly at the location of the power plant. In contrast to the other types of power plants, whose efficiency generally increases with size, smaller, local systems in particular become economical.


The size is shaped by the experience that the electrical efficiency increases with the size and the costs per unit of energy generated decrease. In other words: A power plant block with 1000 MW (1 GW) can produce electricity at lower costs than a small power plant with 1 MW of the same type of power plant.

Small power plants do not have to compete with wholesale electricity prices for the end consumer, but with those for end consumers, so that better economic efficiency may be achieved, since no distribution network is involved. Small power plants are also partly used in district heating networks, which means that a significant part of the primary energy used (higher overall efficiency ) can also be sold as heat. With rising fuel and CO 2 costs, combined heat and power systems and CHPs are gaining in importance. As relatively small power plants, they can quickly adapt their output to demand, relieve the extra high voltage network and reduce transmission losses by being close to the consumer and improve security of supply due to their larger number.


Electricity generation costs

Electricity generation costs (Fraunhofer ISE 2013)
Energy source Costs in € / MWh
Brown coal 038-530
Hard coal 063-800
Natural gas CCGT 075-980
Onshore wind 045-107
Offshore wind 119-194
Biomass 135-215
Small photovoltaic system (DE) 098-142
Large photovoltaic power plant (DE) 079-116

When considering the energy production costs, both internal and external costs must be considered. Internal costs are borne by the producer, while external costs are borne by the general public.

The internal costs can be represented with the electricity production costs . These can differ significantly depending on the type of power plant, the specific investment costs, the fuel costs and its mode of operation. Electricity production costs are usually given in ct / kWh. They result from the capital-related costs related to the electricity production, the consumption-related costs, the operational and other costs, whereby the annuity method is mostly used to calculate the capital costs.

External costs arise primarily from conventional energy generation using fossil fuels and nuclear energy, while they are only incurred to a small extent with renewable energies . They manifest themselves primarily in the form of damage to the environment, climate and health; their internalization usually requires government intervention. Under certain circumstances they can exceed the retail prices for electricity. The Federal Environment Agency specifies the external costs of lignite and hard coal power plants as 8.7 cents / kWh or 6.8 cents / kWh, while they are 0.8 cents / kWh for electricity generation from photovoltaics and 0.1 cents for wind energy / kWh are significantly lower.

Investment costs

The table below shows, among other things, the investment costs for a new power plant and relates to the generation of 1 kW electrical peak output . The investments for a power plant are considerable. For a full-cost electricity generation calculation, in addition to the investment costs and the construction time, the annual running time, fuel, maintenance, indirect environmental, dismantling and disposal costs must also be taken into account. In addition, one must consider how flexibly a power plant can generate electricity: A flexible power plant (e.g. gas, oil or storage power plant) that produces electricity especially at times of peak electricity demand and thus high electricity prices, still works profitably even with above-average electricity generation costs.

Type Construction costs
in € / kW (max)
usage time
Gas power plant 0460 high 40% short very flexible load adjustment, low investment costs
coal-fired power station 1250 medium 85% medium very harmful to the climate (CO 2 ), radioactive ash , environmental pollution
Hydroelectric power plant 1500 no 60% long no fuel dependency, very flexible load adjustment, depending on the geographic location
Nuclear power plant 5000 low 85% long low flexibility, high disposal, final storage and dismantling costs
Wind turbine 0980 onshore
1950 offshore
no 20% onshore a)
35–50%  offshore
short no fuel dependency, depending on the weather and location
Photovoltaic system 1240 (end of 2014) no 10% a) short no fuel dependency, time of day, weather and location dependent,
installation on built-up areas, possibly competes with end customer electricity price

a) Data for Germany, in other countries e.g. T. higher

Economical meaning

Power plants are of considerable technical complexity and have a decisive influence on the functioning of an economy . A large part of the national economic wealth of a state is tied up in them, and they are also of considerable importance in the consumption of economic and ecological resources .

In Germany there is a considerable need to replace power plant capacities: numerous existing lignite, hard coal and natural gas power plants are approaching an age limit at which they should be replaced by modern power plants. There are technical, economic and ecological reasons for this. In addition, there is the German exit from nuclear energy , so that more power plants will be shut down in the future.

Environmental pollution

Carbon dioxide CO 2

Power plants that generate electricity generate around 45% of all carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, which in turn are the main cause of the current global warming . Coal-fired power plants are particularly emission-intensive . With more than 10 billion tons of CO 2 emissions in 2018, they cause around 30% of all energy-related carbon dioxide emissions of around 33 billion tons worldwide.

In Germany about 50% of the electricity is generated by steam power plants in which fossil energy is burned and carbon dioxide is produced as exhaust gas. In 2015, according to preliminary data, power plants in Germany emitted around 312 million tons of carbon dioxide. The emission factor, i.e. H. the average carbon dioxide release was 535 g CO 2 / kWh; In 1990 it was still 761 g CO 2 / kWh. This means that emissions per kWh fell by around 29% between 1990 and 2015. This decline is due to the expansion of renewable energies and the greater efficiency of today's fossil-fuel power plants.

Due to the elementary composition of coal as an energy source, the CO 2 share during combustion is significantly higher than with natural gas, the main component of which is methane . For this reason, test facilities are to be built for coal-fired power plants to condense carbon dioxide from the flue gas and to inject it in liquid form at around 60 bar underground into fissures made of porous rock ( CO 2 separation and storage , CCS). However, this technology is associated with considerable losses in efficiency. About 10% of the energy used must be used for the CO 2 condensation and its compression, so that the overall efficiency drops to 35% to 40%.

Not all power plants generate in operating CO 2 , but is created in the production, basically in the operation and they were demolished in the production of greenhouse CO 2 . The total amount released (over the entire life cycle) is very different, as the following table shows.

Type of power plant CO 2 emissions
per kWh in g
Share of total
electricity production (2015)
in Germany
Hydropower 004-13 03.0%
Wind energy 008-16 13.3%
Photovoltaics 021-55 05.9%
Nuclear power plant 066 14.1%
Natural gas CCGT 410-430 08.8% (gas power plants in general)
oil 890 00.8%
Hard coal 790-1080 18.2%
Brown coal 980-1230 24.0%
(garbage, biomass, ...)
500 (estimated) 11.9%

In Germany, the share of electricity generated in combined heat and power plants (CHP) with different energy sources is around 13%. If it is generated from natural gas, an average CO 2 amount of 243 g / kWh is released.

When comparing the emissions balance between a CHP and a hard coal or gas and steam power plant, the CO 2 , SO 2 and fine dust emissions decrease, but the NO x and CO emissions increase. If, however, CHPs replace old oil and gas heating systems, the overall emission load is improved (79% of German heating requirements are still covered by oil and gas heating systems and only 13% by district heating and only 4% by electricity).

Harmful smoke gases

The electrostatic precipitator of a brown coal power plant

The exhaust gas from a power plant, in which raw materials such as coal or wood are burned, not only contains carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) and water vapor , but - depending on the fuel - small amounts of other components that are harmful to the environment and health and are removed with the help of so-called flue gas cleaning should be. In emerging countries they almost always do without it for cost reasons and accept massive smog formation , for example . Corresponding procedures were prescribed by law in Germany from 1974 onwards and implemented gradually. The formation of the respiratory toxin carbon monoxide must be prevented by a suitable control during the combustion.

Flue gas denitrification
The hotter the flame, the more nitrogen oxides NO x are formed from the nitrogen contained in the air . Promote nitrogen oxides u. a. the formation of acid rain . They are either reduced below the limit values ​​by appropriate management of the combustion process or removed from the flue gas with suitable filters. Processes that convert nitrogen oxides with ammonia to molecular nitrogen and water in catalytic converters are widespread.
Flue gas desulphurization
Fossil fuels such as coal or crude oil can contain up to 4 percent sulfur , from which sulfuric acid is formed after intermediate steps . This is u. a. a reason for acid rain. If the fuel contains appropriate amounts of sulfur, the sulfur must be filtered out of the flue gas. Processes that convert calcium carbonate (in the form of limestone powder) into calcium sulfate (gypsum) are widespread here.
Burning solid fuels such as coal or wood always produces fine dust , soot and fly ash . A coal-fired power station can produce up to 10 t of dust per day, which is filtered out of the exhaust gas by very effective electrostatic precipitators. The particles almost always contain toxic heavy metals .

Radioactive pollution

Apart from nuclear accidents or problems with storage, the radiation exposure of humans from the extraction and use of coal is significantly higher than that from nuclear power plants. Coal contains traces of various radioactive substances, especially radon , uranium and thorium . The content is between a few ppm and 80 ppm, depending on the deposit . Since around 7800 million tons of coal are burned in power plants worldwide each year, the total emissions are estimated at 10,000 tons of uranium and 25,000 tons of thorium, which is largely contained in the ash. The ash from European coal contains around 80 to 135 ppm uranium.

When coal is extracted, especially dust from opencast mines , via exhaust gases from power plants or via power plant ash , these substances are released and contribute to artificial radiation exposure. The binding to fine dust particles is particularly critical. In the vicinity of coal-fired power plants, even higher loads can often be measured than in the vicinity of nuclear power plants. According to estimates of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory are the use of coal from 1940 to 2040 worldwide 800,000 tons of uranium and 2 million metric tons of thorium are released.

Between 1960 and 1970, around 1,100 tons of uranium was extracted from coal ash in the United States. In 2007, the Chinese National Nuclear Corp commissioned the Canadian company Sparton Resources, in cooperation with Beijing No. 5 Testing Institutes conduct trials to extract uranium from the ashes of the Xiaolongtang coal-fired power station in Yunnan Province . The uranium content of the ashes from this power plant is 210 ppm uranium (0.021% U) on average, higher than the uranium content of some uranium ores.

Landscape destruction

Lignite mining in Turow / Poland

The very inexpensive extraction of lignite in open-cast mining leads to the forced relocation of entire villages ( list of excavated towns ), the destruction of arable land and the lowering of the terrain below the water table. The extensive destruction of the landscape is often followed by recultivation , with lower-lying areas of the excavation pits being flooded. These can then - like the Leipziger Neuseenland - be used for tourism. On the steep banks of the former coal mines, landslides can still occur decades after the end of the mining work, such as on Lake Concordia, with deaths and high levels of property damage.

Warming of rivers

Most thermal power plants use river water for cooling, a total of approximately 224 cubic kilometers annually in North America and 121 cubic kilometers in Europe. In order not to let the environmental pollution from the additional water heating by power plants become too great, power plants have to be partially throttled or completely shut down in summer. By Global Warming , this effect will further increase. In Europe, for example, the water temperature of rivers will rise by around 0.8–1.0 ° C in midsummer between 2031 and 2060, and by 0.7–0.9 ° C in the USA. As a result, the production of conventional power plants could be 6–19% or 4–16% lower. This decline could be offset by renewable energies . At the same time, due to the scarcer (cooling) water resources in almost all European countries with the exception of Norway and Sweden, the electricity production costs of conventional energy generation are increasing . According to the life cycle analysis, the most advantageous way of saving water in the energy sector is to switch to photovoltaic and wind power plants .

Cultural meaning

Some power plants from the pioneering days of electrification are still fully operational technical monuments today . The Walchensee power plant used to be the landmark of the Bayernwerk . Some power plant buildings were designed from an artistic point of view or were decorated as part of art projects. A prominent example of this type is the Heimbach power plant , which was designed in the Art Nouveau style.


See also


  • BWK (= "fuel, heat, power") is a trade journal published by the VDI

Web links

Commons : Kraftwerke  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Kraftwerk  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


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