Power Generation Systems Information

Power generation systemPower generation systems are power generators and related systems that are used in power plants or large-scale power generation facilities. Both turnkey systems and modular equipment are available.


There are three major types of power generation systems:

  • natural gas
  • oil-fueled
  • biofuel

Each type consists of various components, including generator sets that are designed for continuous performance under demanding conditions. Some generator sets in power generation systems use diesel fuel. These diesel engine generator sets usually have pistons made of forged steel with an aluminum skirting and a one-piece, cast iron engine block.


Product specifications include:

  • engine type
  • cylinder configuration
  • fuel type
  • bore
  • stroke
  • cylinder displacement
  • cylinder output
  • mean piston speed
  • mean effective pressure
  • engine rating
  • generator set rating
  • compression ratio

Natural gas power generation systems may provide combined heat and power (CHP), spinning reserve, grid support, and load firming or load balancing. CHP systems use cogeneration to produce both electric power and usable heat. Spinning reserve refers to the backup capacity in a power generation system that can be used to provide electricity to a transmission system or grid in the event of a power outage. Grid support refers to interconnection technologies, which allow distributed power systems to sell electricity back to utilities on a regular basis. Typically, load firming or load balancing is used with variable power sources such as wind. Natural gas power generation systems offer excellent heat rates over a wide operating range, and are designed to meet strict emissions requirements. Oil-fueled power generation systems burn liquid fuels, distillate fuel oil, crude oil, or heavy fuel oil. By contrast, biofuel power generation systems burn vegetable oils and animal fats. There are two types of liquid fuels derived from pure petroleum: distilled fuels and residual fuels. Distilled fuels are drawn off from the sides or overheads of distillation columns in oil refineries. Residual fuels are the products remaining at the bottoms of these distillation columns. There are also two main types of biofuels: ethanol and biodiesel. Ethanol is made by fermenting sugars into alcohol. Biodiesel is made by separating glycerin from animal and vegetable oils to create methyl esters. Power generation systems that use biofuels may help reduce emissions of so-called greenhouse gases.

Related Information

Image credit:

IEEE Spectrum—Biodegradable Power Generators Could Power Medical Implants

IEEE Spectrum—Squishy Power Generators

IEEE Spectrum—A Power Plant for the Home

Image credit:

Siemens / CC BY-SA 3.0


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