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Power Generation usually refers to the generation of electricity for purposes of distribution to factories and homes for domestic and industrial heating, cooking, lighting and powering of machinery.

The science[]

Power Generation is the means by which electricity, a useful energy source, is generated from an alternate source that is not in an immediately useful form. For a start, electricity is easily portable: all you need is wires. It can power light bulbs, heat your kettle's water, turn a motor or power an electronic circuit. The potential energy stored in water in the hills cannot do any of these things. Therefore, in strictly scientific terms, we ought to call this "electricity generation" or "energy conversion". But, hey, who listens to scientists anyway.

There is a wide variety of energy sources ripe for conversion, but chemical energy is the most common. Chemical energy is usually tapped by oxidation, that is usually burning, of a chemical, usually a hydrocarbon. The simplest might be the conversion of natural gas, methane (CH4) into carbon-dioxide (CO2) and water vapour (H2O). This oxidation of the methane releases energy in the form of heat. Heat can be used to boil water in a pot, or it can be used to boil water in a power station that uses the resultant high-pressure steam directed against a fan-like device called a turbine, that turns the generator to produce electricity.

There are, of course, by-products of this process, not least the water and carbon-dioxide, and, that which most science students will neglect, the heat. If a river is not nearby to cool the heated water, massive cooling towers are used to dispense the excess heat that cannot be viably converted into electricity. Obviously this means that energy converted from the

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The Economics[]

In the conversion of one form of energy to another, there is two main critical issues: {a} the efficiency of energy tranfer, how much of the stored energy is converted to useful energy, and {b} the by-products created in the process.

Subsequent issues of economic viablilty of the process, such as the cost of infrastructure required to perform this energy conversion and the ongoing costs, will determine whether the system is utilised in capitalist nations. Furthermore, this issue becomes more significant in profit-driven electricity markets, and will outrank other considerations should there be no other driving factors.

The History[]

The chemical energy stored in coal has been in use for hundreds of years, however there is an even older chemical energy that has been in use almost as long as men and women have walked the Vexillium: Wood. This source of energy has been exploited to heat homes, to cook meals, to light the evening and to melt metals for thousands of years. (Alternative sources have also been in use, such as animal dung, but use of dung has nasty respiratory and infection side-effects.)

The discovery of coal prompted a new form of fuel, but it was not until the discovery of steel, industrialisation and the steam engine that coal became the centre of the industrial states that were evolving in the century before the Vexillium plague.

After the plague, with critical and widespread labour shortages in effect, industrialisation became economically vital, requiring fewer workers to produce the same cotton or wollen cloth. Steam energy, powered by coal, allowed vast machines to be created that could perform the task of hundreds of workers. Of course, these industrial plants needed their power-providers right next to them, rather than by the coal fields from which they were fuelled. Yet, despite such inefficiency, industry seemed happy enough for this to persist, for mass electricity generation actually came about not with industry, but with lighting.

Electricity was long discussed, since the Rimlan philosophers, but experimentation did not begin until the last two centuries BP. And while scientists founds ways to harness and generate electricity, it failed to find any mass practical use until Alva Edward Thomasson, inventor extraordinaire, discovered the incandescent light bulb. Needing a reliable source of electricity for his light bulb, Thomasson also began developing an electricity generator, and in 182ap, Vexillium's first commercial power station was turned on in the Gronkian city of Eulos, generating electricity for 800 of his electric light bulbs.

At the time, lighting was derived largely from the burning of fine oils or by gas. Electricity was seen as a safer, more efficient and far cleaner means for lighting, and Thomasson's power station was a hit, growing by 1400% in 14 months. Yet, despite his early success, Thomasson's burgeoning power company did not come to rule the globe, for his technology was flawed. Thomasson used direct current, which does not transmit efficiently over large distances. Instead, the alternating current system, invented by Guwimithian Nikolas Laste, came to dominate courtesy of Gronkian industrial consolidator George Eastingsflat.

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Methods of generation[]

Power Generation on Vexillium can be achieved by the following sources of energy:

  • Solar
  • Wind
  • Coal
  • Gas
  • Oil
  • River flow
  • Uranium, and
  • the natural flow of waves


Advantages and Disadvantages[]

What are the advantages and disadvantages of each, and how much of each would or could a nation deploy?

Firstly, Solar Power is prohibitively expensive. While it is the best and most easily-available source of energy, generation of electricity by solar cells is far too expensive for widespread use.


solar power and as-yet-experimental wave power.

TBC

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