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Science

Generating electricity

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Resources compared

You should be able to compare and contrast the different energy resources used to produce electricity. You may be given information in the examination for you to discuss.

Power stations

Power stations fuelled by fossil fuels or nuclear fuels are reliable sources of energy. This means they can provide power whenever it is needed. However, their start-up times vary according to the type of fuel used.

This list shows the type of fuel in order of start of time going from short to long.

  1. gas-fired station (shortest start-up time)
  2. oil-fired station
  3. coal-fired station
  4. nuclear power station (longest start-up time)

Nuclear power stations and coal-fired power stations usually provide 'base load' electricity - they are run all the time because they take the longest time to start up. Oil-fired and gas-fired power stations are often used to provide extra electricity at peak times, because they take the least time to start up.

The fuel for nuclear power stations is relatively cheap, but the power stations themselves are expensive to build. It is also very expensive to dismantle old nuclear power stations and to store their radioactive waste, which is a dangerous health hazard.

Renewable resources

Renewable resources of fuel do not cost anything, but the equipment used to generate the power may be expensive to build. Certain resources are reliable, including tidal barrages and hydroelectric power. Others are less reliable, including wind and solar energy.

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