All power generation systems are subject to many constraints, including power demand, energy flow, storage and power efficiency. However, when energy is added to an electrical system, it does not necessarily produce free electrons.
Because the conversion of energy into electricity requires the use of electrical circuits by the electrical power generators (that is, the generators that take electricity, and use that electricity to turn electrical equipment), it is important to understand, because each generator has specific problems and limitations. When energy is added to a system, it is either lost to air or lost through failure, which affects the efficiency of the system during operating hours. The following chart shows the relationship between the amount of energy present and how efficiently it is dissipated through devices and circuits:
Power Generation Systems and Their Efficiency Relationship Energy Efficiency (Wh) Energy Consumed (Wh) Total System Energy Consumption (Wh) Power Generation System Power Efficiency (W) Efficiency (W/kWh) Power Consumption by Power Generators Total Power Consumption (MW) Power Consumption by Power Generators % Energy Consumption per Unit of Load Power Consumption per Unit of Load
Figure 1: Power generation system efficiencies, based on U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data.
Most systems using power generation equipment operate in the “conversion mode,” where energy is converted to electricity and the excess is used for heating the home, heating water, cooking, etc. Converting power to electricity is called AC systems and produces about the same amount of electricity as if it were being generated directly by an electric power generator.
Power generation systems using AC power typically use less electrical energy to produce the same amount of electricity. On average, an electric power generation system using AC produces around two-thirds of the total energy used in the U.S. for AC power generation. For each kilowatt-hour of electricity produced (equivalent to 1,440 kilowatt-hours), the power is consumed by the power unit and stored. Energy in excess of electricity produced in an AC system may be lost due to either leakage of electrical current (which occurs at the line), or failure. One key example of this occurs when AC is used to move a vehicle on a highway, where the vehicle’s weight is pulling the vehicle along at high speeds, which is an AC electrical system. The AC system has the capability of producing only 80% the amount of energy consumed in a vehicle that would be generated in a direct AC system.
Power generation systems using direct current also
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