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A.C power can be generated as a single phase or as a balanced poly-phase system. However, it was found that 3-phase power generation at 50 Hz will be economical and most suitable. Present day three phase generators, used to generate 3-phase power are called alternators (synchronous generators). An alternator has a balanced three phase winding on the stator and called the armature. The three coils are so placed in space that there axes are mutually 120° apart as shown in figure 2.1. From the terminals of the armature, 3-phase power is obtained. Rotor houses a field coil and excited by D.C. The field coil produces flux and electromagnetic poles on the rotor surface. If the rotor is driven by an external agency, the flux linkages with three stator coils becomes sinusoidal function of time and sinusoidal voltage is induced in them. However, the induced voltages in the three coils (or phases) will differ in phase by 120° because the present value of flux linkage with R-phase coil will take place after 120° with Y-phase coil and further 120° after, with B-phase coil. A salient pole alternator has projected poles as shown in figure 2.1(a). It has non uniform air gap and is generally used where speed is low. On the other hand a non salient pole alternator has uniform air gap (figure 2.1(b)) and used when speed is high. 

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