AQA P1a Electricity

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Generating electricity
Electricity is a very convenient form of energy that can be generated using
different energy resources. Some of these resources are renewable and some are
non-renewable. Each resource has advantages and disadvantages.
Fossil fuels
Fossil fuels for power stations
Energy transfer for the generation of electricity from a fossil fuel
The fossil fuels are coal, oil and natural gas. They are fuels because they release heat
energy when they are burned. They are fossil fuels because they were formed from the
remains of living organisms millions of years ago.
About three-quarters of the electricity generated in the UK come from power stations
fuelled by fossil fuels. To the right is an energy transfer diagram for the generation of
electricity from a fossil fuel such as coal.
Disadvantages of using fossil fuels
Fossil fuels are non-renewable energy resources. Their supply is limited and they will
eventually run out. Fossil fuels do not renew themselves, while fuels such as wood can
be renewed endlessly.

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Fossil fuels release carbon dioxide when they burn, which adds to the greenhouse
effect and increases global warming. Of the three fossil fuels, for a given amount of
energy released, coal produces the most carbon dioxide and natural gas produces the
least.
Coal and oil release sulphur dioxide gas when they burn, which causes breathing
problems for living creatures and contributes to acid rain.
Nuclear fuels
You should be able to outline how electricity is generated using nuclear fuels.…read more

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A wind turbine
Wind turbines have huge blades mounted on a tall tower. The blades are connected to a
nacelle or housing that contains gears linked to a generator. As the wind blows, it
transfers some of its kinetic energy to the blades, which turn and drive the generator.
Several wind turbines may be grouped together in windy locations to form wind farms.
Advantages
Wind is a renewable energy resource and there are no fuel costs. No harmful polluting
gases are produced.…read more

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Advantages
Water power in its various forms is a renewable energy resource and there are no fuel
costs. No harmful polluting gases are produced. Tidal barrages and hydroelectric power
stations are very reliable and can be turned on quickly.
Disadvantages
It has been difficult to scale up the designs for wave machines to produce large amounts
of electricity. Tidal barrages destroy the habitat of estuary species, including wading
birds. Hydroelectricity dams flood farmland and push people from their homes.…read more

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Advantages
Geothermal energy is a renewable energy resource and there are no fuel costs. No
harmful polluting gases are produced.
Disadvantages
Most parts of the world do not have suitable areas where geothermal energy can be
exploited.
Solar energy
You should be able to outline how solar energy is used to generate electricity and to
produce hot water.
Solar cells
Solar-powered ticket machine
Solar cells are devices that convert light energy directly into electrical energy. You may
have seen small solar cells in calculators.…read more

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Solar panel
Advantages
Solar energy is a renewable energy resource and there are no fuel costs. No harmful
polluting gases are produced.
Disadvantages
Solar cells are expensive and inefficient, so the cost of their electricity is high.
Solar panels may only produce very hot water in very sunny climates, and in cooler areas
may need to be supplemented with a conventional boiler.
Although warm water can be produced even on cloudy days, neither solar cells nor solar
panels work at night.…read more

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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.…read more

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