Cooling towers. Hwange Thermal. Image credit

ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes: Natural Resources: Energy:Thermal Power: Location Factors

Fuel source

  • Thermal power stations cab be located at the fuel source.
  • This is if the fuel is difficult to transport.
  • For example Hwange Thermal Power station is located at the coal fields.
  • The power station in the S.E Lowveld using baggage is also raw material oriented in location.

Market based

  • Where transport is available, thermal power plants become market based in location.
  • They become close to the points of demand for the electricity.
  • For example the location of such power stations in Bulawayo, Harare, Zvishavane and at Munyati in Zimbabwe.
  • Oil or gas fired thermal power stations behave in a similar way.

Flat land

  • A large piece of flat land is required to build a thermal power station.
  • The land will be used to build the powerhouse, the cooling chambers, offices and transport routes as well as for stockpiling the coal.
  • A thermal power station must be located near large rivers or where there are abundant, sufficient and efficient water supplies.


  • This is taken into account when locating thermal power plants at the market.
  • The burning of the fuel to boil water causes a lot of environmental pollution.
  • Coal dust and oil leaks are disastrous pollutants.
  • Therefore, these plants should be located far from residential areas and Central Business Districts.


  • Coal, oil and natural gas are bulky fuels and are used in large amounts at thermal power stations.
  • Plants that use coal can be located along railway lines while for oil and gas-fired plants, are located along pipelines which distribute the fuels.

To access more topics go to the O Level Geography Notes page