The operation of a power station becomes more complex because of variable loads. The primary objective of any power plant is to fulfill the load requirements of consumers. In an ideal scenario, a constant and steady load would be preferred in terms of required equipment and operating routine. However, such a steady load is rare in practice as consumers require varying blocks of power based on their activities. As a result, the load demand of one consumer may differ from another, leading to a variable load on the power station. Given below are 5 impacts of variable loads on Power Plants.
Additional Equipment Requirement
Variable loads on a power station may require additional equipment to be installed to regulate the supply of raw materials. Consider the case of the steam power plant. Here raw materials are air, coal, and water. For instance, if the demand for power increases, the supply of raw materials to the boiler must also increase to meet the demand. To achieve this, additional equipment is required for this purpose. In fact, in modern power plants, additional equipment is dedicated to adjusting the supply rates of raw materials according to the power demand thereby increasing the costs.
Increase in production cost
The variable load on the plant increases the cost of the production of electrical energy. An alternator operates at maximum efficiency near its rated capacity. If an alternator is supplying loads that are far smaller than the rated capacity, there will be an increased production cost
Increased capital costs
In order to mitigate the issue discussed in the previous section, there is an alternative approach. Power plants that experience variable loads may require additional equipment or upgrades to accommodate the changes in demand. For example, if a power plant frequently operates at a low load, it may need to install additional equipment to maintain efficiency at that level. These capital costs can be significant and can impact the overall profitability of the power plant.
Variable loads can also lead to revenue loss for power plants. When demand is low, the plant may be unable to sell all of the power it generates, which can result in lost revenue. Additionally, if the plant is unable to meet demand during periods of high load, it may be forced to purchase power from other sources at a higher cost, which can also impact profitability.
Variable loads can also increase maintenance costs for power plants. Frequent start-stop cycles, changes in temperature and pressure, and other stressors can cause wear and tear on equipment, leading to more frequent maintenance and replacement of components.