20 Apr 2020

Grid Power Support - When Supply Can’t Meet Demand

Aggreko supports Grid Capacity

It is no secret that people use different amounts of electricity at different times of the day and at various points throughout the year. This means demand for electricity is not always constant. Usually, nighttime sees the lowest demand, with people asleep and not using any of their appliances. 

In winter, the increased use of heating units ups the demand again, while summer afternoons see a peak usage when people are inside and running their AC systems. 

The dramatic fluctuation in usage means grid operators need to have enough electricity at hand to meet demand at every minute, regardless of whether it is summer, winter, night, or day. 

But this isn’t always do-able, particularly when usage is high and other factors come into play. As a result, grids can see major outages, brownouts, and blackouts that can plunge whole towns into darkness. 

This can happen during seasonal events that draw in large crowds to towns that usually don’t have as much load demand, as well as during times when there is extreme weather conditions. 

In one instance, we helped a grid keep supply in line with demand during a world-famous sailboat race. The grid in South Carolina expected an extra load that would push the substation past the limits of the 22kV line. And, because the event took place at the end of the line, any disturbances elsewhere could have left an entire section of the small island completely in the dark. 

We provided a diesel-powered plant and custom controls to monitor the increased demand from the substation, and automatically produced enough extra power to meet usage needs. 

The installed plant was also able to detect any loss of power on the grid and switch into isochronous load share mode to ensure customers wouldn’t experience any interruptions in power supply. We successfully installed and tested the temporary system in just three weeks, which meant the event ran smoothly with no outages. 

It is not just an increase in usage that can lead a grid to be unable to meet demand. Events like equipment failure can quickly hamper a utility’s ability to supply power to its customers. 

Providing enough power to keep customers’ lights on and appliances working should be the key aim of any grid. But when equipment failures, extreme weather, and an increased usage occur, we have quick, easy, and efficient solutions to get grids back up and running as soon as possible. 

We have engineered systems that can be deployed proactively or reactively to help alleviate grid congestion and to support grid capacity. Whenever and wherever the need for electricity outweighs the available supply, we can step in and fill the gap with our selection of support options. 

Take one utility in the Northeast that wanted to mitigate any risk of equipment failure, brownouts, and rolling blackouts. Because it was located in a very popular summer vacation spot, we formulated a solution to tide the utility over until infrastructure upgrades took place. 

Burning diesel wasn’t an option, so we designed and installed a plant at two separate substation sites that could produce up to 18MW of power. 

Grids face extra demand every year, whether it’s because of an increased need for AC or heating, or because a large event is taking place. By implementing systems before any outages occur, grid operators can have peace of mind that their customers won’t be left without power.