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Electrical energy


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How is electrical energy produced?

Hydroelectric power stations which make use of waterfalls, modern combined-cycle plants using natural gas, traditional thermal plants, wind turbines... whatever the energy source or fuel they use, they all generate electricity in much the same way. In each of the systems a shaft is turned which is connected to a power generator and this in turn produces electricity.

The Generator

A generator works like the dynamo on a bicycle. The action of pedalling turns the wheel which in turn moves the shaft of the dynamo, thus moving its internal mechanisms and generating electricity.

The Dynamo

Inside, a dynamo consists of a cylindrical element with magnets inside it, which is connected by a shaft to the small wheel of the dynamo. When the wheel turns, so does the cylinder. The cylinder is surrounded by a spiral coil of metal wire which is a conductor.

In scientific terms, all metals are made up of atoms which are in turn made up of electrons. When the cylinder containing the magnets rotates, these generate a magnetic field which causes a reaction in the electrons in the wire coil, making them move about to create an electric current. This is what is called "electric induction".

  1. Wheel (turbine)
  2. Sealed cylinder containing magnets
  3. Wire coil
  4. Shaft


This is how electricity is generated in a dynamo. The process is much the same in power stations, but on a much larger scale. In this case, the generator shaft is turned by the force of the water, wind or steam.

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This is the attention service of the Basque Energy Agency.