When Studying How Electricity Is Made And Used, It Is Essential To Know The Following Terms
“Generation” refers to how much electricity is made over time. Most electric power plants use some of the power they make to power the plant itself, and the electricity used to run a power plant is not counted in the net generation. The most electricity (electric power) a power plant can make at a particular time and under certain conditions is called capacity.
Sales are how much electricity is sold to customers over time, making up the vast majority of the electricity used in the U.S. Because some energy is lost (as heat) when sending and distributing electricity, more electricity is made than is sold. Also, some people who use electricity make it themselves and use most or all of it. This is called “direct consumption.”
Customers include commercial, institutional, and industrial/manufacturing businesses and homes with their generators. The U.S. also sells and buys electricity from Canada and Mexico. In the United States, the total amount of electricity used by end-use users is equal to the amount of electricity sold at retail and used directly.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) Of The United States Collects Data On Two Types Of Power Production And Capacity
Utility-scale refers to the energy production and capacity of electric power plants with a total capacity of at least 1,000 kilowatts (M.W.).Small-scale generators have a capacity of less than 1 M.W. and are often located close to or at the point of use. Most solar photovoltaic systems put on buildings’ roofs are small-scale systems.
In the United States, utility-scale plants are expected to produce around 4,116 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of net electricity in 2021. (or about 4.12 trillion kWh). Small solar photovoltaic (P.V.) systems made an extra 49.03 billion kWh of electricity, according to the EIA (or around 0.05 trillion kWh).
In the United States, about 61 percent of utility-scale electricity production in 2021 will come from fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, and oil. Nuclear energy will make up 19 percent of utility-scale electricity production, and renewable energy sources will make up 20 percent.
The Ability To Make Electricity
Electric power system operators, also called “grid operators,” ask power plants to make and put the right amount of electricity on the grid at any given time to meet and balance electricity demand. On average, power plants don’t make as much electricity as they can all the time.
There Are Three Main Types Of Generators, Each Of Which Is Used For Different Things
Base load generators often meet all or part of the minimum or base demand of the electric power grid (load). A base load generating unit stays on for most of the day and provides energy at a rate almost always the same. Most of the time, nuclear power reactors are used as base load generators because they are cheap to run and can’t respond to changes in demand.
Geothermal and biomass units are often used for base load because they are inexpensive to run. Many large hydropower plants, many coal plants, and a growing number of natural gas-fired generators, especially those used in combined power applications, provide baseload power.
Peak load generating units help meet energy needs at their highest, like late in the afternoon or when more power is needed for air conditioning and heating. These so-called peaking units are made up of generators that are usually powered by natural gas or oil. In general, these generators are inefficient and expensive to run, but they do a precious job during times of high demand. Pumped storage hydropower and regular hydropower units can sometimes help the grid by providing power during high demand.
The most significant part of the generating sector comprises units that operate based on load between base load and peaking service. Demand changes over time, and most intermediate sources are technically and financially able to follow changes in load. An intermediate operation uses a wide range of energy sources and technologies. Natural gas-fired combined cycle power plants, which make more electricity than any other method, are often used as intermediate sources.