Thermal electricity

Thermal electricity is produced by burning other fuels like coal, petroleum and natural gas in thermal generators or specially designed furnaces. 


  • Fuel supply: Many thermal power plants are located near coal fields, oil & natural gas fields or at importing points. Nearness to fuel can greatly reduce the transportation cost of raw materials such as coal. 
  • Water supply: It is required for cooling purposes because much heat is produced and needed to be released and hence nearness to the river lake, estuary or coastal site is preferred.
  • Market: There are several advantages of nearness to the market. It reduces transmission cost of the generated current. Also, allows the plant to work at full capacity. 
  • Economic and political stability: Many of thermal power plants are privately owned in general. Hence, profitability and economic viability is important. Also, stable political and policy environment is required. 


  • Shows a very similar pattern to the distribution of densely populated industrial areas. 
  • Favoured areas for Thermal Power Plants (TPP) are:
  • Major coal fields of the world. (Lignite and even peat is used)
  • Chief oil and natural gas fields where these are near markets.
  • Major oil importing and refining ports. 
  • Major industrial regions. 
  • Highly urbanized region where there are large demands.


  • Effect on environment: HEP is completely clean source while TPP generates a lot of pollution.
  • Effect on local environment and area: TPP do little change to the area, while HEP tend to change the surroundings by flooding in an otherwise scenic and biologically diverse areas, especially if there is a plan to attract a large amount industry dependent on HEP. There is a growing opposition of HEP.
  • Conservation of resources: TPP use fossil fuels, while HEP uses freely flowing water.
  • Economics of development and operation: 
    • Initial cost of power generation in TPP is lower. 
    • TPP is a standard plug and play model. But each HEP plant is carefully designed and meticulously planned to suit local geology, population and market.
    • Maintenance cost TPP is higher than HEP. Because of tremendous heat output of the TPP. In HEP, de-silting and weeding out must be done regularly.
    • Fuel cost of TPP, while HEP is free.
    • Transmission cost HEP> TPP
    • Labour cost TPP>>HEP
    • Output 
  • Output easily controlled in HEP than in TPP.
  • Value in the National economy 
    • Value of the HEP is not limited to the power as they are part of the larger Multipurpose projects. But TPP are solely for power and serve no other purpose.
    • HPP and TPP most of the times complement each other with most countries building both. Developed countries like USA have constructed a national grid, to which all the power generating units are connected. 
    • TPP’s constantly run on full or stable capacity and HEPs (which can be easily and immediately regulated) are altered to meet the changing demands. 
  • Future development:
    • TPP more preferred because they are cheaper to construct and take less time to install. Private. companies usually take the lead unlike HEPs which are very expensive and hence mostly executed by the government and most often they have to take loans and foreign support. 
    • HEP bring along many other associated problems:
  • Diseases. Ex. Mosquitoes spread malaria etc.
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