Thermal Power Plant Advantages And Disadvantages | What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Thermal Power Plant?

Thermal Power Plant Advantages And Disadvantages: Modern civilization will not sustain without electricity so power generation has become very vital and considered as the backbone of industrial development and urbanization. The use of thermal power to generate electrical power has been an age-old mechanism that is still contributing to a major part of electrical consumption. The advantages in terms of location, raw materials, and infrastructure also facilitate the installation of thermal power plants in many parts of the country.

Thermal power plants use fuels like coal, oil, or liquid natural gas to convert water to steam that drives a turbine to generate electricity. It can be set up at any location with easy accessibility of fuel and water. The thermal power plants play a crucial role in the generation and supply of electric power because they can flexibly respond to the demand pattern of power and implement various ways to get larger output. Thermal Power plants are the major source of electricity for any country. More than half of the total electricity demand in our country is met by thermal power plants.

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What is a Thermal Power Plant? Advantages and Disadvantages of Thermal Power Plant 2022

The rapid growth of urbanization and industrialization results in more consumption of electricity and thus creating a huge demand for electrical power. A thermal power plant is an electric power generation station in which heat energy is converted to electricity. In this process of energy conversion, the fuel is burnt to produce a high temperature that converts water into steam in a boiler. High-pressure steam is passed to create a force on the turbine causing it to rotate at high speed.

A power generator is coupled with the turbine which in turn generates power from this movement. Heat energy is used to produce electric power so this is called thermal power. However, like all power sources, thermal energy production also has both advantages and disadvantages associated with it as explained below.

Advantages of Thermal Power Plant

  • Financial Benefits: One of the main advantages of thermal power is the low cost of power generation. The plants use fossil fuels to generate power which is still abundant and economical. The initial investment cost for the installation of a thermal power plant is also less as compared to the other types of power plants. Considering the proximity to urban areas, the transportation and other costs are minimal. Usually, these plants are placed near the load center thereby reducing the power distribution cost.
  • Location Advantage: One of the greatest advantages of thermal plants is that they can be located in any suitable area without any specific geographical requirements, unlike a hydroelectric project. Thermal plant locations can be selected considering areas where displacement of people is not required. The locations of thermal power plants are generally not far from consuming centers, so the cost-benefit ratio is always better than hydroelectric projects. Thermal power stations generally develop in plain regions and also do not require much larger areas, thus favoring the scope of expansion.
  • Environmental Impact: The installation and construction phase of the thermal power plant causes no major environmental damage. The thermal power generation process involves using fuels that have virtually no toxic emissions. For the installation of thermal power plants, not very large areas of land are required. This is an advantage in terms of protecting forest life which is getting destroyed due to an increase in the setting up of industrial plants. The construction of thermal power stations also does not involve much time, thereby reducing chances of air and soil pollution to a large extent.
  • A reliable source of energy: Thermal energy generation is considered a more reliable source to handle future power demands. The power plants have the flexibility to respond to various power requirements and the changing demand pattern. It can adjust the output of power generation as per the demand. Thermal power provides a stable output and is considered the backbone of grid supply. The technology for thermal power generation is well established and easily accessible making it a more reliable source of energy.

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Disadvantages of Thermal Power Plant

  • The volume of water requirement: Thermal plants require a large amount of water to produce steam that can drive the turbines to produce electricity. The huge requirement of water causes a serious impact on water sources in rivers, lakes, and groundwater.
  • Use of fossil fuels: The fuels used to produce thermal power are exhaustible resources. Thermal power generation requires the extraction of coal and natural oil from the earth which causes depletion of these fossil fuels. The power generation in thermal plants is also dependent on the quality of coal or natural oil sometimes affecting the optimum level of output.
  • Air and soil pollution: The operation of power plants, in the long run, causes air pollution due to the emission of harmful gasses. The occasional release of harmful gasses like sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and other gasses makes an adverse impact on the environment. Some thermal power plants are also said to emit a large amount of mercury and generate fly ashes that can contaminate air, water, and soil in the surroundings. There are chances of pollution created from non-point sources due to transportation of coal, loading, and unloading of fuels, storage of coal and oil, etc. Water pollution can be caused by plant effluents, ash handling, demineralization, etc.
  • High maintenance cost: The cost of maintenance and operation of a thermal power plant is quite high. The machines and equipment in thermal plants are complicated and require skilled personnel to handle them efficiently. The occurrence of machine trouble is frequent and maintenance requirement is more. Lack of modern equipment and qualified personnel to handle operations and maintenance restricts further expansion of plant capacity and resources. There are additional costs involved for transportation of raw materials and maintaining large storage space for coal and other fuels.
  • Low efficiency and life span: The overall efficiency of the thermal power plant is considered low. Many coal-based thermal power plants use older technologies that lack chances of upgrading. This also affects the general life span of and efficiency of thermal power plants as compared to hydroelectric power plants. Environment experts have suggested limiting the operation of coal-based power plants considering the climate changes due to pollution and the greenhouse effect. The relative financial security regarding restrictions on fossil fuel extraction may create an additional disadvantage for the required expansion of thermal power plants.

Comparison Table for Advantages and Disadvantages of Thermal Power Plant

Cost of power generation is cost-effectiveThe use of fossil fuels cause depletion of resources
The fuel used is abundant and economicalRequirement of huge quantity of water
The plant can be set up irrespective of any specific geographical requirementOverall low efficiency and life span
Requires less area as compared to the other power plantsHigh maintenance cost

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FAQ’s on Thermal Power Plant Advantages And Disadvantages

Question 1.
How is thermal energy converted to electrical energy in thermal power plants?

In thermal power plants, heat is used to generate steam from water which under high pressure drives the turbine attached to the power generator and generates electrical power.

Question 2.
What is the location advantage of installing a thermal power plant in comparison with hydroelectric power plants?

Hydroelectric power plants have specific geographical requirements for set up which is not required for thermal power plants.

Question 3.
Why are maintenance costs of thermal power plants high?

Thermal power plants mostly used old technology and complicated equipment that required frequent maintenance by skilled personnel making the cost high.

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