A load curve is a plot of the load demand (on the y-axis) versus the time (on the x-axis) in the chronological order.
It is a curve showing the variation of load on the power station with respect to (w.r.t) time.
From out of the load connected, a consumer uses different fractions of the total load at various times of the day as per his/her requirements.
Since a power system has to supply load to all such consumers, the load to be supplied varies continuously with time and does not remain constant.
If the load is measured (in units of power) at regular intervals of time, say, once in an hour (or half-an-hour) and recorded, we can draw a curve known as the load curve.
Daily Load Curve
A time period of only 24 hours is considered, and the resulting load curve, which is called a ‘Daily load curve‘, is shown in the figure.
Monthly Load Curve
The monthly load curve can be obtained from the daily load curves of that month.
For this purpose, average values of power over a month at different times of the day are calculated and then plotted on the graph.
The monthly load curve is generally used to fix the rates of energy.
Yearly/Annual Load Curve
The yearly load curve is obtained by considering the monthly load curves of that particular year.
The yearly load curve is generally used to determine the annual load factor.
However, to predict the annual requirements of energy, the occurrence of the load at different hours and days in a year and in the power supply economics, ‘Annual load curves’ are used.
An annual load curve is a plot of the load demand of the consumer against time in hours of the year (1 year: 8,760 hours).
The significance of Load Curve
- Observe the variation of load on the power system during different hours of the day.
- The area under this curve gives the number of units generated in a day.
- The highest point on that curve indicates the maximum demand on the power station on that day.
- The area of this curve divided by 24 hours gives the average load on the power station in the day.
- It helps in the selection of the rating and number of generating units required.
Importance of Daily Load Curve
The daily load curves have gained great importance in the generation industry due to the fact that they supply the following information.
- On the daily load curve, you can see how the load on the power station varies during each hour of the day.
- The area under the daily load curve gives the number of units generated on that day.
- Units generated/day = Area (in kWh) under daily load curve.
- The peak on the daily load curve indicates the maximum demand on the station on that day.
- By dividing the area under the daily load curve by the total number of hours, the daily average load is obtained.
- Average load = Area (in kWh) under daily load curve / 24 hours
- Load factor is calculated from daily load curve by taking the ratio between the area under the load curve and the area of the rectangle within which the load curve is contained.
- Load Factor = Average Load / Maximum demand (peak demand)
- The load curve is used to select the size and number of generating units. It is chosen based on the load curve which determines how many and what size of generating units are needed. In this way, the generating units are operated at or near their maximum efficiency.
- When preparing the operating schedule for the power station, load curves are helpful. A plant’s operating schedule is the timing and sequence in which various generating units (such as alternators) will be put into operation.