How do we know how much electricity needs to be produced and how much is used?

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Also, how large can the error be between these two?

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6 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

We don’t need to know the exact values which is nice

If you have a diesel engine or similar putting mechanical energy into a spinning generator and then you increase the electrical draw on that generator, it’ll slow down. You can either accept the slower generator which changes the frequency or increase the power being supplied to the generator by the diesel engine. If you reduce the electrical load then there’s less push back and the generator will speed up.

Thanks to this you don’t actually need to know how much mechanical energy is being put into the generator or how much electrical energy is being drawn from it. You only need to make sure its spinning at 3600 rpm (60 Hz for North America, its 3k rpm for Europe and 50 Hz systems). If it spins too fast then put less fuel into the systems that are powering the generator. If it spins to slow then increase the mechanical energy you’re supplying.

The generators can only tolerate a fairly small change in frequency (<0.5 Hz) so overall production and overall demand needs to be pretty similar, but you can figure out how much was consumed later as long as you add fuel now to manage the slowdown of the generator.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Electricity is really convenient. Devices draw as much as they need, and as long as we keep the generators turning at the same speed (and have enough of them) we will not overproduce or underproduce.

The difficult part is keeping them turning at the same speed. As we use more electricity, there is more force pushing against the wheels to slow them down. The engine needs to push harder to keep the speed the same. By adjusting the fuel and air flow to the engines, or water flow to turbines, we can make sure that it keeps spinning at roughly the same speed.

Anonymous 0 Comments

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Anonymous 0 Comments

The electric grid needs to run at certain voltage ( 110v /230v at the home ) and a certain ac frequency (50hz eu or 60hz us).

When a (steam) generator runs it produces a certain voltage at a certain frequency depending on the load and rpm.

More load than output and the voltage and frequency(generator goes slower) drop, more output than load voltage and frequency go up.

Electric grid operators turn on/off generators or demand more/less load depending on voltage and frequency the generator are putting out.

Allowed voltage range is +-6% (+10%-6% in eu) they try to keep the Frequency in a +-0.2% ish range.

Anonymous 0 Comments

If we aren’t producing enough, the grid actually slows down, and it will speed up if we produce too much. Depending in where you live, the grid runs at 50 or 60Hz. Once it drops above or below a certain threshold, we know to produce more or less power. Basically the generators at power plants encounter more or less resistance if they aren’t meeting demand perfectly, so they can spin faster or slower than they are supposed to.

We have also gotten very good at predicting people’s power usage, so we are prepared for big spikes and drops that happen at regular intervals like people getting home from work. We also account for how much solar power we get and adjust our predicted demand based on that because you can’t exactly just turn off solar panels

Anonymous 0 Comments

This is the job of the “governor”. As others have stated, it comes down to making sure the “thing” is spinning at a constant speed. Whether it’s a hydroelectric turbine, a gas turbine, a diesel engine, etc… Those things are designed to produce power up to a certain rating. As long as the “thing” is spinning at a constant speed, it will output power up to that rating. The governor is the device that makes sure it’s spinning at the appropriate speed. As load goes up, generator speed goes down, so the governor will compensate and ensure speed is maintained.