Upon reaching the Engineers population tier in Old World, the Oil Power Plant is unlocked. Similarly, upon reaching the Investors in Old World, the Gas Power Plant is unlocked. These facilities turn Oil or Gas respectively, into Electricity.
This page will discuss all the steps required to operate a Power Plant and how its output in Electricity influences a player's cities. For more detailed information on the individual buildings involved in the system, see the hyperlinks scattered throughout.
Both systems of generating electricity come with their own unique sets of challenges:
- Oil requires a unique System of Oil Transport, consisting of several unique buildings, specific ships and the design of a Railway Network that is wholly separate from roads. Wherever a player expects to extract oil or to use it to power an Oil Power Plant, a great deal of planning and additional building space is needed to make it work. Fortunately, oil deposits are plentiful in New World and Oil power itself is cheap and efficient compared to Gas.
- Gas can be transported like any other cargo and Gas Power Plants require a lot less effort and room to operate. The challenge lies instead, in extracting the gas. Gas deposits are only ever found in The Arctics, on barren, glacial islands that lack a coastline or the ability to produce their own consumer goods. This means that the workforce extracting the gas, needs to be fully supplied by airship, which is expensive. So too are the Gas Mines extracting the gas and even when the Arctic is fully exploited with roughly 18 of these, only about 8 Gas Power Plants can be fueled. Gas power itself is expensive and inefficient compared to Oil, but requires less room.
After that, the appropriate Power Plant consumes oil/gas like any other factory, but functions more like a Public Building in the way that it influences other structures in a radius around it.
When a player manages to successfully implement these system and a Power Plant is operational, it can fulfill the need for Electricity that Engineers and Investors have, along with Electricity often being necessary to power their associated factories and Production Chains. Many of the game's production buildings also gain a production and shipping bonus when electrified, greatly increasing industrial efficiency. When a player electrifies their industry, fewer production buildings - along with their costs in maintenance and workforce - are necessary to serve the same amount of people.
The use of Electricity is restricted to the Regions of Anno 1800's world that lie in its European Temperate Climates, such as Old World and Cape Trelawney. New World cannot build Power Plants to electrify its towns, though its abundance of oil fields can help fuel those build elsewhere. The Arctics can't make us of Power Plants either, but this region is the only one that has Gas deposits.
- 1 Oil
- 2 Gas
- 3 Electrifying Buildings
- 4 Oil vs Gas
To use Oil for generating electricity, it must be extracted, processed and then delivered to the Power Plant through an intricate system involving several buildings and stages. These buildings and stages are as follows:
- Oil Refineries are build nearby Oil Springs, which are - within the Refinery's radius - exploited by Oil Wells.
- A Railway Network then carries the Refinery's oil between and towards the other stages in the system.
- The Oil Harbor, processes the oil into something that can be readily used by a Power Plant.
- Power Plants burn the oil processed by the Oil Harbor to generate Electricity.
- Optionally, Oil is stored and/or shipped to Oil Harbors on other islands, by means of Oil Tanker.
For the player to gain any amount of oil - surface Oil Springs will need to be exploited first. These are usually found in small clusters upon an island.
First, an Oil Refinery needs to be build near Oil Springs. These are polluting structures, lowering the Island's attractiveness by -40. It also causes pollution unhappiness for residents there which is permanent, regardless how much attractiveness gets added afterwards by the player.
Much like a Sheep Farm, the Oil Refinery has a zone of operations in which smaller structures can be placed. For the Refinery, these smaller structures are Oil Wells, which can only be placed upon the Oil Springs. For every Oil Well successfully placed, the governing Oil Refinery will produce 4 Oil every minute. There is no apparent limit to the amount of Oil Wells that a single Oil Refinery can support, but since Oil Spring clusters are somewhat dispersed, most Oil Refineries can only fit roughly half a dozen Oil Springs within their operational radius.
This does not necessarily mean a refinery should always fit the maximum amount of Oil Wells it can. The more Oil Wells are added to a single refinery, the higher the productivity and therefore the chances of fire and explosion incidents. The player can decide on an interesting trade-off between two philosophies.
- The player places more Oil Refineries that each have less oil wells. Without using further items, this greatly reduces the chances of dangerous incidents, up to a degree where nearby fire stations might completely eliminate explosions and fire from ever happening. Only 3 Oil wells per Refinery, with the Refinery surrounded by 2-3 Fire Stations, will make the Refinery Fire and Explosion immune. Pollution however, will skyrocket with this many Refineries, people get unhappy and this system is less building space efficient and more expensive to maintain. This can be made up for by using only a few refineries per island and having more islands to tap into.
- The player places the minimum amount of Oil Refineries, that each hold the maximum amount of Oil Wells. This is cheaper and requires less space, but a player can expect to rebuild their Oil refineries with frequent fires and explosions damaging them. This is cheaper however, more efficient and requires a lot less space.
Oil Wells and their Oil Refinery do not need to connect with each other through either roads or rail. The Refinery itself does not need to connect to the player's warehouses or larger transportation system either - other than by rail - but since they're accident prone, it is wise to build a road upon which the services of fire stations can reach them. When an incident does happen, only the refinery will suffer the consequences, and not the Oil Wells.
In the region of Old World, clusters of Oil Springs are rare and are usually only found on the larger islands that players start on (or near to) in the beginning of the game. In the region of New World, these Oil clusters are much more common.
It's advisable for the player to build their first Engineer residences on the same island as where Oil Springs are found for an easier start. (see section on "Oil Harbor, Storage and Shipping" for an explanation)
The Oil Refinery, on opposing sides of its structure, has openings that facilitate a connection to your railway network. This connection has to be made for the Refinery to be able to ship its yield to subsequent stages in the system.
The Refinery's output of Oil will need to be shipped to several more buildings in the Oil System. This must be done by Train and to facilitate this transport, all buildings involved have Railway openings to the side of their structure, for connecting to the greater Railway Network between them.
When properly connected, Trains are sent out across the Railway to ferry the oil between the different destination in the Network.
Fundamentally, the Railway Network needs to connect 3 different buildings within the same network of rail, for this network to be complete. These are the Oil Harbor, the Oil Power Plant and the previously mentioned Oil Refinery.
Railways work much the same as roads. They form their own continuous sequence of railway exclusive tiles, can be dragged to form a route, and require resources in the form of steel and timber to be build. However, where roads will automatically meld with adjacent roads, Railways are directionally placed and oriented. For example: Two lengths of road placed next to each other, will meld to create what is functionally a two-tile-wide road, whereas placing two lengths of railway tracks next to each other, will not and function like separate tracks. For lengths of railway to cross with or connect to another, the player will need to actively drag the railway towards where it needs to be oriented and into what it needs to cross or connect into.
Railways can cross roads, but only at a perpendicular, 90 degrees angle. Railways cannot be superimposed upon roads across a road's entire length and in the same direction. With the exception of crossovers, the two must exist separately.
Crossovers should be avoided however. Roads are able to channel a Public Building's range of influence. Railways can not and players should be aware that roads crossed by railways, channel a public building's influence on a diminished basis. Apparently, railway crossovers obstruct the flow of people, services and goods that travel across roads. This restricts buildings like Market Places, Banks, Theaters and even the Power Plant itself from properly exerting the full range of its influence. Fortunately these reductions are minor, but nonetheless important for city planners looking to optimize every last tile of their settlements.
Power plants - the last building the network needs to connect too, are usually build at the center of densely designed cities and industrial districts. This means players will need to consider and plan how their Railways are supposed to pass through the clutter of buildings and reach the Power Plant within.
Unlike Ships, Trains do not need to be build or maintained by the player. They originate from the Oil harbor, where a limited number are available.
Trains have a practically limitless range within an island, provided they can get to a destination by traversing the unbroken extend of the railway network. They can drive through a building if it possesses links to the railway network at both entrances. Otherwise they operate much like any other road-bound cargo delivery - taking time to pick up the oil amassed inside the structure of each destination and ferrying it across the railway network.
Trains will safely ignore road-bound traffic whenever their railway crosses a road. Should one of your road-bound cargo transports be present on a road where a train is about to pass, the train will simply phase through without incident.
However, trains do not ignore each other and will avoid collision (although the accident that this implies is not represented in the game). Travel along the same length of railway track in the same direction is fine. Multiple trains can be present within the structure of the same destination (inside an oil refinery, oil harbor or power plant), but they will not start their journey outwards unless they can path an uninterrupted route through the railway network that will avoid collision. Once their journey has begun, trains do not stop, though they are willing to time the start of their journeys to avoid other trains (see picture and and an explanation of an example below).
Dividing your network up into different segments of railway so that trains can avoid each other by switching tracks, creating parallel railway tracks, making use of all of a building's entrances by connecting them in a loop and making the network circular, all help to alleviate possible issues of train congestion.
One way of monitoring train congestion is by selecting the Oil harbor, upon which the congested tracks are colored red.
The Oil Harbor, Storage and Shipping
Oil Harbors are the central component of Anno 1800's oil delivery system. Players can only build a single Oil Harbor per island and it is this structure from where the Railway Network's trains originate. Upgrading it will increase the amount of trains available from a minimum of 3, to a maximum of 5, alongside enhancing the amount of Oil stored inside the building.
While Oil Refineries and Power Plants possess two entrances for linking up to the Railway Network, the Oil Harbor possesses only one. It is advisable to split it into two different tracks as close to the harbor as possible.
It is worth repeating that an Oil Refinery's output of oil, must first arrive at an Oil Harbor, before it can be shipped to a Oil Power Plant. The player can presume that the harbor further refines the Refinery's oil into something that can be burned cleanly by the Power Plant, or that the Oil Harbor packages it in a way that can be received and readily handled by it.
Oil Harbors also facilitate shipments of oil to other Oil Harbors - on other Islands - through the use of Oil Tankers. These vessels are the only ones that can take oil aboard (and nothing else) and they have their own unique Trade Routes available in the Trade Route menu once the first Engineers move into a player's cities.
Aside from shipping, the Oil Harbor can also store oil. Upgrading the building will increase its own storage capacity, and this storage can be further enhanced by building additional Oil Storage structures. Oil Storage facilities require a free harbor area, but this area does not need to be the same as in which the Oil Harbor was built.
Note that Oil Tankers themselves are created by a player's Engineer workforce, from components which themselves require Electricity. This means that before oil can be shipped anywhere else, Electricity must first exist upon an island capable of creating an Oil Tanker and all its components, through the labor of a large Engineers workforce. This is why it's advisable for players to already be invested in an island where Oil springs are available (usually starter islands), and to create their first Engineers residences and a majority of their industry there. Players who do not, must first create a system of Commuter Piers to ferry Engineers over to an island with Oil and develop it from scratch with the expansive industry required to manufacture Oil Tankers.
Oil Power Plant
The ultimate benefactor of the entire System of Oil Transport, is the Oil Power Plant, which is a 5x5 building that receives oil shipped from the Oil Harbor by train, and proceeds to burn it at a rate of 12 per minute. This means that at least 3 of a Refinery's Oil Wells (which produce at a rate of 4 per minute) are necessary to feed a single Oil Power Plant.
Like the Oil Refinery, the Power Plant has openings to connect to the Railway Network, on both sides of its structure.
It's worth pointing out that the Oil Power Plant itself causes no pollution (as counter-intuitive as that may seem). They're free to place within packed residential areas without any drawbacks.
While the delivery, transport and use of Gas is far easier than that of oil, it's the extraction of gas that is the greatest challenge.
Surmounting the Arctic
For the player to gain any amount of Gas, Gas deposits need to be exploited first. These deposits however, are found in some of the game's most difficult locations: The Arctic and, within the region, only upon four special glacial islands to its North.
These islands are barren and rise out from the ocean at great height, which makes their development challenging. With no other resources to exploit but gas, settlements here cannot sustain themselves. With the lack of a harbor area, a player also cannot construct the Trading Posts and Commuter Piers to import the workforce to operate the Gas Mines or the goods to make living here possible through normal means.
A paradox to this solution is that players will need gas to construct the first airships to make the extraction of gas possible, but following the region's storyline, Old Nate will grant the player enough Gas to build their first Airship to start this cycle for the first time. Airships themselves cannot be destroyed, but should the player demolish all of theirs voluntarily, Old Nate will always gift enough gas for the construction of one airship.
The four glacier islands upon which Gas Deposits are found, always have the same shape, location and availability of gas (regardless on seed and abundance settings). This is 13 gas deposits for each island, for an absolute total of 52 Gas deposits available in any game of Anno 1800.
First, a Gas Pump needs to be build near Gas Deposits. The Arctic islands do not have an attractiveness rating, so Gas Pumps cannot cause pollution. Much like a Sheep Farm, the Gas Pump has a zone of operations in which smaller structures can be placed. For the Refinery, these smaller structures are Gas Pumps, which can only be placed upon the Gas Deposits.
For every Gas Pump successfully placed, the governing Gas Mine will produce 0,22 Gas every minute. There is no apparent limit to the amount of Gas Pumps that a single Gas Mine can support, but since clusters of Gas Deposits are somewhat dispersed, most Gas Mines can only fit 3-4 Gas Pumps within their operational radius.
Similar safety concerns as those posed by Oil Refineries, are appropriate for the Gas Mine. More Gas Pumps raise productivity in the Gas Mine, increasing the chance of incidents. Since far fewer Gas Deposits fit into a Gas Mine's range however, this concern is less so.
Gas Pumps and their Gas Mine do not need to connect with each other through roads. The main building will need to connect to a player's warehouse to get the produced gas to a Sky Trading post. Since Gas Mines are accident prone, it would also be wise to add nearby Ranger Stations. When an incident does happen, only the Gas Mine will suffer the consequences, and not the Gas Pumps.
Transport of Gas
Unlike Oil, which needs a separate delivery system via Railway Network, transporting Gas is as easy as any other piece of cargo. Gas Mines output their gas in canister form and these simply need to be shipped from the Gas Mine, by road, to a Warehouse or Sky Trading Post on the same island. Once there, a trade route to other islands can be formalized through the Trade Menu, and Airships capable of overcoming the glacier island's height barrier can pick up and deliver the gas elsewhere, while also delivering the goods necessary for the glacier settlement's survival. Targets of the Airship can include ordinary ground-based Trading Posts. This means gas can be handed off to ordinary trading ships that carry the canisters back to Old World, or for the Airships themselves to handle transport across regions, which they're capable of.
To use the acquired gas for production of electricity, the gas canisters simply have to arrive at an Old World Trading Post, where they're made instantly available to every other Warehouse on the island. If one of these warehouses is next to a Gas Power Plant, the gas canisters are delivered to the Power Plant by road.
All of this is to say that Gas completely eliminates the need for some of the structures found in the Oil system, such as an Oil Harbor, Oil Storage and Railway Tracks. The only necessary addition to a Gas Power Plant in the middle of a dense residential area or an industrial district, is a warehouse.
Gas Power Plant
Two things can be done with Gas. Some of it may be used to construct Airships, but the ultimate benefactor is the Gas Power Plant, which is a 6x5 building that proceeds to burn the delivered gas at a rate of 1,33 per minute. This means that slightly more than 6 of a Gas Mine's Pumps (which produce at a rate of 0,22 per minute) are necessary to feed a single Gas Power Plant. Since Gas Deposits come in clusters of 3 or 4, two Gas Mines will be necessary to operate at least 6 gas mines.
Like the Oil Power Plant, the Gas Power Plant causes no pollution or any negative drawbacks, even when placed within residential areas.
A Power Plant consumes either gas or oil, but unlike every other Production Building in the game, does not produce electricity as a unit of cargo that can be shipped and stored in a warehouse, and to be consumed anywhere on the island. Instead - and just like real-life 19th century power plants - the electricity produced emanates from the Power Plant by electrifying the streets around its structure up to a limited range, just like the game's Public Buildings spread their influence through the road network.
Power Plant Range
The Power Plant starts by electrifying the first street directly adjacent to it, horizontally or vertically, but not diagonally. Its influence then travels along any length of concurrent road.
- For Oil Power Plants, the maximum extent of this range is 49 brick road tiles.
- For Gas Power Plants, the maximum extent of this range is 59 brick road tiles.
Again, care must be taken that railways crossing a road, can diminish this range. Any building which touches an electrified road tile, is counted as having electricity.
Like most Influence buildings, the Power plant can be selected to show its range upon the nearby roads in green, but the Power plant also indicates its range by giving the affected streets unique visuals. Within range of the Power Plant, utility poles carrying power cables will line the streets and primitive motorized vehicles will start to pop up.
The Power Plant's influence is absolute and unlike Public Buildings, possesses no gradations. Streets and buildings are either fully electrified by being within range of the plant, or they are not not.
Recipients of Electricity
Only certain buildings actually benefit from electricity.
The residences of Engineers and Investors show their ability to profit from electricity by having a listed need for it in their information tab. (Pictured to the right)
Once the player gains their first Engineers, Production Buildings will also reveal whether they are able to profit from being hooked up to your power grid. This in two ways (also pictured below):
- The information panel of certain production buildings will become more elaborate, revealing a little gauge below the panel's central cog that frames the building's productivity number. If the the little gauge shows, the building can be electrified, upon which the gauge's pointer will swing to right, towards the gauge's blue zone.
- The game will begin to point out if a buildings is improved by electricity, or if it needs electricity to function, as a new sentence within the game's building menu.
Ahead of having your first Engineers reveal this information, many other, lower tier production buildings can also benefit from electricity. A good rule of thumb to predict which buildings benefit ahead of time (other than browsing this wikia) is the following: All production buildings staffed by Workers and upwards in social class, can use electricity. Production buildings staffed by Farmers can only use electricity when they are not the first in their production chain.
As an example: A potato farm is staffed by farmers and is the first building in the Schnapps chain. It cannot receive electricity. The Schnapps Distillery, staffed by Farmers, is not the first in the chain and can receive electricity.
Benefits of Electricity
Industrial Efficiency and Maintenance Costs
Aside from being a basic need for Engineers and Investors, and sometimes being required for specific buildings to even function, the most important aspect of electrifying your industry is increased production. Every production building that can benefit from Electricity and receives it, has its throughput doubled. Disregarding other influences, Electricity boost productivity from 100% to 200%.
For example: A Sewing Machine Factory, normally turns 2 lumber 2 steel into 2 sewing machines a minute at the maintenance cost of -500 . When powered with electricity, it will turn 4 Lumber and 4 steel into 4 sewing machines a minute, at the maintenance cost of -500 .
The grand benefit to this is in the economies of scale. Electricity won't help if 2 sewing machines a minute is all a player needs to serve some 4200 Artisans, 2800 Engineers or any combination of the two between. The moment a second Sewing Machine Factory is necessary to serve more than that however, 500 coin per minute can be saved by electrifying the first Factory instead.
Since many of the more advanced production chains end with expensive factories that are costly to maintain, but would fit easily around the range of a single power plant once multiples are required, several thousands in coin can be saved by making a one-time investment in an electrical system, whose long-term costs in maintenance pale in comparison to having to operate more factories than strictly necessary.
Not including the one-time expense in materials and some of the infrastructure required to support operations, an operational Oil Power Plant with Oil Springs available on the same island, needn't cost more than -750 coin per minute to operate.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for an operational Gas Power Plant. Because Gas needs to be extracted the hard way, costs can quickly amount to -4800 coin per minute to operate at a minimum, even when disregarding the infrastructure required to support operations. It's therefore recommended to only use Gas power when a player's empire has money left to burn.
Still, for some production chains, and depending on the game's income settings, electricity is all but required to turn a profit.
Buildings that require Electricity
Certain Engineer and Investor-tier production chains require Electricity to even function in the first place. Without power, these buildings and their chains will not work at all. These include:
- Steam Shipyard
- Heavy Weapons Factory
- Bicycle Factory
- Motor Assembly Line
- Cab Assembly Line
- Gramophone Factory
- World's Fair
These buildings will also gain a 200% production boost from being electrified. However, since they need to Electricity to function at all, Anno 1800 considers the production rate at 200% to be "as normal".
For example: The earlier image of the game's building menu, states that Concrete Factories produce 1 concrete per minute and that they can be improved with Electricity. Improvement through Electricity involves a doubling of production rates, so the player can assume an electrified Concrete Factory will produce 2 concrete per minute. The game also states that a Bicycle Factory produces 4 bicycles per minute (one every 15 seconds), but since the Bicycle Factory NEEDS electricity to function in the first place, 4 bicycles per minute is its production rate "as normal" with the bonus of Electricity already factored into this number. It will not get higher for cause of being electrified.
Evolution of Cargo Transport
More than Electricity, a player's successful running of any Power plant also implies the local availability of fossil fuels. For this reason, a Power Plant will inspire motorization and early automation in its area of influence. One cosmetic indication of this is the appearance of the first auto-mobiles in a player's residential areas. While these are mere vanity items for the upper-class, a more important result of this progress is found in Players' electrified Industrial districts.
Any Production Building under the influence of Electricity, will replace the outmoded horse-drawn carriage with early model Trucks. These new cargo transports have a substantial influence on the flow of cargo.
Motorized Trucks move twice as fast as the horse-drawn carriage and are ten times quicker to offload and pick up cargo. Where a horse drawn carriage takes roughly 8 seconds to travel between a production building and a warehouse 3 tiles apart on a straight road, the motorize truck takes 4 seconds to do the same. Where a horse drawn carriage takes roughly 20 seconds to offload a production building's cargo at the local warehouse, the motorized truck takes 2 seconds.
Queues left in front of busy warehouses struggling to service an overabundance of horse-drawn carriages, might quickly be relieved by electrifying the nearby industries. Motorized trucks come and go so fast that there's hardly a queue to be formed and a player will need far fewer warehouses to support busy industrial districts. This leaves more room for stacking production facilities around power plants.
Dangers of Electricity
With the increase of productivity in electrified Production Buildings, also comes a greater chance of the fire and explosion Incidents. It's therefore important to guard an electrified industrial district carefully with Fire Stations, both to decrease the risk of incidents happening and quelling them the moment they break out.
Oil vs Gas
So what source of power should a player use to electrify his or her cities?
Despite being harder to extract, Gas power has the great advantage of being easier to use in Old World to generate electricity. No elaborate system of railways or oil harbors are necessary - only a warehouse next to the Gas Power Plant. The spread of influence for a Gas Power Plant is also larger, ranging at 59 brick road tiles, compared to the Oil Power Plant's 49. Despite the Gas Power Plant itself being slightly larger and needing a warehouse, Gas power is the way to go for those looking to make the best use of space on an island.
On the other hand, Gas also has some definite drawbacks. There are only 52 Gas Deposits available in the game, regardless of settings or seed. With each producing just 0,22 gas per minute and the Gas Power plant consuming some 1,33 per minute, only 8 Gas Power Plants can be supported. Only a few more can be added with judicious use of items. For an especially large empire, the player will have no choice but to use both and carefully select which islands to place their Gas Power Plants in. Oil Power Plants meanwhile, have access to enough New World oil deposits to afford several dozen of them.
Gas power is also horrendously inefficient and expensive and not recommended unless a player's company has money left to spare. A player needs double the amount of Gas Mines compared to Oil Refineries, when powering the associated Power Plant. On top of that, the maintenance on everything to do with Gas, from the airship, the mine and the Gas Power Plant itself, compared to an Oil Tanker, refinery and Oil Power Plant, costs nearly trice as much.