Fossil Fuels - How Plants Work

In our fossil fuel plants, we burn fuel (either natural gas or oil) in a large boiler.

Conventional Steam Cycle:

Stage Description
The heat from the fire boils water and turns it into steam. The steam is at very high pressure.
The steam spins the blades of a turbine, just like the wind makes a pinwheel turn. This steam cools, turns back into water, and is recycled into the boiler, where it's heated once again.
A long shaft attached to the turbine turns a generator, which makes electricity.
The power then goes through a transformer, which boosts the electricity to a very high voltage so it can be sent to customers.

NextEra Energy Resources uses these technologies:

Simple Cycle Combustion Turbine

The simple cycle combustion turbine can be used to generate electricity in a natural gas plant. This is the technology that is used in jet engines, and NextEra Energy Resources' power plants can use combustion turbines to generate electricity quickly during times of high demand. In this process:

  • Instead of the turbine and generator being driven by steam, they are driven by hot combustion gases.
  • This results in power being generated at one end, while the exhaust of the hot gases goes out the other end.

Combined Cycle Turbine

Many of NextEra Energy Resources' natural gas plants use state-of-the art combined cycle technology, which results in a much more efficient plant - about 30 percent more efficient, in fact. It works like this:

  • A natural gas, combined-cycle plant produces electricity from two sources of energy instead of one.
  • Energy is produced by combustion of natural gas in a turbine, similar to a jet engine.
  • Energy is also produced by making use of the jet engine exhaust to make steam.
  • Both sources of energy then drive turbines and electric generators to produce electricity.