Baseload (continuous load)
- The minimum amount of electricity required by an electrical grid to meet the continuous demand for power over a period of 24 hours.
- It is needed to provide power to components that keep running at all times.
- This demand is typically met by large, steady generators such as nuclear, hydroelectric, or coal-fired power plants.
- The maximum amount of electricity demanded by the grid during periods of high demand.
- The peak demand could be understood as the difference between the base demand and the highest demand.
- To meet this increased demand, additional power sources that can be quickly ramped up or down as needed must be brought online.
Visualising the difference
These peaking demands are often for only shorter durations.
Baseload power plants
These plants are running continuously over extended periods of time to cater to the base demand of the grid.
- Nuclear power
- Coal power
- Solar thermal with storage
- Ocean thermal energy conversion
Peakload power plants
These plants are only activated to cater demand peaks.
- Diesel generators
- On summer afternoons, when air conditioners are operating at maximum capacity.
- The demand for television will increase during a significant occasion, such as the match final of the World Cup, as a large number of people will be tuning in.
Where do Solar and Wind fit?
Wind turbines and Solar power are often classified as variable renewable energy sources (VREs) or intermittent renewable energy sources.
Because their electricity output is dependent on the availability of wind and sunlight, which can vary over different timescales, and even across seasons.
As a result of this variability, they are not typically considered a Baseload or a Peakload energy source.
Addressing the variability challenge
As we shift towards a more renewable energy future, it's also important to understand how variable renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, fit into this picture and how they can be integrated with other sources of electricity to meet our energy needs.
Wind and solar power are often paired with other sources of electricity and energy storage systems, to balance out fluctuations in supply and demand, ensuring a stable and reliable supply of electricity, while also maximizing the use of renewable energy resources.
Check out our LinkedIn post on this topic here.
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