Where Does Electrical Energy Come From?

Most electrical energy is created using electromechanical generators. These devices convert rotational energy to electrical energy by inducing a magnetic field over copper wires. The energy to turn the generators may come from wind or water, or the turbines may be driven by steam heat from nuclear or fossil fuels.

A generator typically consists of a stator, which is an iron core wrapped in electrical wires, and a rotor, or a spinning component that produces a magnetic field. The rotor may utilize permanent magnets, or it may use a small direct-current charge to create an electromagnetic field. When the rotor spins rapidly, it causes electrons to move in the wires wrapped around the stator, creating an electric current. The strength of the current depends on how rapidly the rotor turns.

Another type of electrical energy that does not use electromechanical generation is photovoltaic solar power. Photovoltaic panels consist of a layer of specially treated silicon that loses electrons when struck by sunlight. This movement of electrons sets up its own electric current, creating electricity without moving parts. Industrial solar generation, on the other hand, uses the sun's heat to boil water, creating power with a steam turbine generator like other power generation methods.