Let’s break it down: Generators are a key component in producing power. Through powerful rotation called “torque”, they convert the mechanical energy from a turbine into electrical energy. Some sources of mechanical energy are:
Generators are everywhere around you, and help keep homes, businesses, vehicles, and more running by providing almost all of the power for electric power grids.
The megawatt (MW) output of a power plant generator corresponds to the size of the energy load produced by its turbine. To understand how it ultimately powers the energy grid, here are a few factors to consider:
Turbines can be powered solely by—or blends of—gas, steam, air, and even hydrogen.
The process is called electromagnetic induction:
Many variables are considered for power-output needs, but insulation and temperature control drive a generator’s capacity to freely flow electrons through copper. For every generator, the basic equation is E = BLV:
B = magnetic flux density
L = length
V = velocity
E = voltage
The length and diameter of the rotor and stator core and the number of copper coils are examples of variables that impact E = BLV.
Moving electrons through a conductor creates heat as a biproduct, but over time, heat reduces the electrical insulation capability that holds voltage in. Copper is the most common conductor because it’s cost-effective and has low electrical resistance, which cuts the amount of heat generated. As a result, electrical insulation is a major factor in generator cost and ability.
Regulating heat inside the generator can be done with air, water, hydrogen (H2), or a blend of H2 and H2O. While hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, the simple answer is it’s a better temperature controller than the others. As a pressurized gas (at 30 psi), hydrogen is:
Hydrogen-cooled generators require fewer materials, so units can be smaller, more efficient, and more cost-effective in the certain output ranges. Hydrogen allows you to have a smaller, less expensive generator for a given output capacity.
Selecting the right generator for your plant can have many implications. “Power trains” connect your turbines and generators in ways that fit individual footprints.
Generators are the workhorses of energy production. But the amount of punishment they take can be reduced—while simultaneously modernizing them. GE is experienced in upgrades that lower the impact of:
Newer parts and refurbished ones can be integrated into older units, extending performance and service life.
Any number of a generator’s complex parts can be affected by wear, mis-operation, synchronizing errors, excitation loss, unbalanced armatures, and more. If a generator loses efficacy, a domino effect of power loss will follow. Compare it to a car that just needs the latest parts to keep running strong. Efficiency improvements on the following can elongate generator life and simply help it run better:
Stator rewinds and rotor rewinds bring electrical insulation back to peak performance.
Upkept and upgraded generators help power plants keep their uptime, meaning we can all access the energy we need for work, play, and life. After decades of learning from its fleets of generators and turbines around the world, GE knows the importance of generator health.
With our experts pushing technologies to new capability, our local maintenance and repair field services, and our dedication to understanding our customers, the generators the world depends on are in careful hands.