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Difference between Base Load and Peak Load Power Plant
A power plant is an interconnected system of various electrical equipment that is used to generate electricity. The major components of a power plant include an alternator (or generator), a prime mover, control system, a generating transformer, etc. The prime mover is a mechanism that drives the alternator or generator to produce electrical energy. The control system governs the parameters such as voltage, power factor, reactive power, frequency, etc. of the generating system. The generating transformer is to step up the voltage of the generated power for transmission purpose.
Nowadays, several types of power plants are being used for power generation, some popular types are thermal power plant, hydroelectric power plant, nuclear power plant, gas turbine power plant, diesel power plant, wind turbine power plant and solar power plant, etc.
But, depending on load handling capacity and duration of power generation, the power plants are classified into two types namely,
- Base Load Power Plants
- Peak Load Power Plants
In this article, we will highlight all the significant differences between base load power plant and peak load power plant. Let's start with some basics of these two types of power plants.
What is a Base Load Power Plant?
A base load power plant is a type of power generating plant that usually generates and supplies electrical energy continuously throughout the year. The base load power plant generates electricity continuously with minimum power generating requirements.
Therefore, a base load power plant is turned off only during service and maintenance, upgradation, overhaul, etc. The demand response, i.e. mechanism of matching generation with load it supplies, is slow for a base load power plant.
The examples of power generating stations or power plants that are treated as the base load power plants are Coal base thermal power plant, nuclear power plant, large-scale hydroelectric power plant, geothermal power plant, biogas power plant, biomass power plant, and solar thermal power plant with storage.
What is a Peak Load Power Plant?
A power plant that runs only during the hours of peak load demand of electricity is called a peak load power plant. The peak load power plant is also known as peaking power plant or Peaker.
The peak load power plants are generally used for short duration of time, because the cost involved in the generation of electricity for a peak load plant is more than that is for a base load power plant. In practice, the peak load hours generally include the hot afternoons when the ACs (air conditioners), coolers, etc. are working.
The examples of power generating plants that are used as peak load plants are gas turbine power plant, solar power plants, wind turbine power plants, diesel engine power plant, and sometimes small-scale hydroelectric power plants.
Difference between Base Load and Peak Load Power Plants
The following table highlights all the noticeable differences between a base load power plant and a peak load power plant
|Basis of Difference||Base Load Power Plant||Peak Load Power Plant|
|Definition||A power plant that supplies electrical power continuously throughout the year is called a base load power plant.||A power plant that supply electricity during the hours of peak load only is called a peak load power plant.|
|Working hours / day||The base load power plants operates for 24 hours of a day.||The peak load power plants runs only during the peak load hours of a day.|
|Generating capacity||The power generating capacity of a base load power plant is high.||The peak load power plants generally have low power generating capacity.|
|Firm power capacity||The firm power capacity (power generating capacity which can be guaranteed to be available at a given time) of a base load power plant is high.||The peak load power plants have low firm power capacity.|
|Starting time of plant||One can select both quick and large starting time power plant as a base load power plant.||The power plants with quick starting time are selected as a peak load power plant.|
|Per unit cost of power generation||The power generating plants with low cost per unit power generation are selected as the base load power plants.||For the peak load power plants, the cost of power generation per unit is high.|
|Load factor||The load factor of a base load power plant is high.||The load factor of a peak load power plant is low.|
|Utilization factor||The utilization factor of a base load power plant is high.||The utilization factor of a peak load power plant is low.|
|Examples||The examples of base load power plants are: thermal power plant, nuclear power plant, large-scale hydroelectric power plants geothermal power plants, etc.||The examples of peak load power plants are gas turbine power plant, diesel power plant, small-scale hydroelectric power plant, wind turbines, solar power plant, pumped storage hydro power plant, etc.|
A Base Load power plant produces electricity for 24 hours of a day, while a Peak Load power plant produces electricity only during peak load hours of the day. We cannot run a peak load power plant for continuous electricity generation because the cost of generation per unit is very high as compared to a base load plant. However, the peak load plants are essential in a power system to ensure the reliability and continuous demand of electric supply.
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