Ohio’s electric distribution utilities (EDUs) are members of the regional transmission organization (RTO) PJM Interconnection, which coordinates wholesale electricity markets and manages the high-voltage electricity grid for over 65 million people. As a result, Ohio receives electricity from a broad geographic area that is generated using both nonrenewable and renewable resources. Nonrenewable resources are found naturally in the earth and produce large amounts of electricity, although they take a long time to form and there is a limited supply available. Renewable resources including hydropower, wind, biomass and solar energy are also used to produce electricity, but often on a smaller scale. These resources are readily available in nature and can be replenished relatively quickly.
Below are brief descriptions of the generation resources currently being used in Ohio.
Natural gas can either be burned to produce steam or to produce hot combustion gas that passes through the turbine blades. Natural gas generates about 36 percent of the electricity used in Ohio.
Nuclear power involves a process called fission in which the atoms of the element uranium split, releasing heat to turn water into steam and rotate the turbine blades. Nuclear power makes up about 34 percent of the electricity Ohio uses.
Coal is burned to produce heat, which converts water into high-pressure steam. The steam turns the blades of a turbine that is connected to a generator. Approximately 24 percent of the electricity used in Ohio comes from coal.
The following renewable resources account for about 5 percent of the electricity used in Ohio:
In hydropower generation, flowing water is used to spin the turbine connected to the generator. Hydropower plants can use the current from a river or falling water that has accumulated in a dam to create the force needed to turn the turbine blades.
Wind turbines use blades to capture energy. The wind causes the blades to rotate, which are tied to a generator that produces electrical energy.
Solar power uses the photovoltaic cells on solar panels to harness to capture sunlight. Solar panels placed on roofs or in solar farms use the photovoltaic cells to produce an electric current.
Geothermal energy involves the heat buried beneath the surface of the earth. This heat transforms water into steam, which is then tapped to be used at steam-turbine plants.
Biomass energy resources include wood and wood wastes, landfill gas, biogas from food processing waste, animal waste, sewage sludge, and potential energy crops.