Can loads absorb more power than needed/requested?

I was designing the governor of a generator, implementing in Digsilent Powerfactory a 1 bus grid like that in the picture.

The generator delivers 350 MW and the 3 loads withdraw respectively 25 MW, 25 MW, and 300 MW (from left to right). All the components have a PF=0,95.

During the simulation, I simulated an opening of one load (the 25 MW one) and, at steady-state, the loads absorb more power than they need. The 300 MW absorbs 322 MW and the 25 MW absorbs 26,8 MW at steady state.

I designed the regulator to keep the output power to 350 MW as far as possible. It's silly but done more to understand the behaviour of the system and how to design properly the regulator.

My question is: if, in reality, I force a generator (whatever it is) to produce 350 MW, is it possible that loads absorb more power than they really need?

If yes, what happens to them? It is like I'm forcing to do that in my simulation but does it also happen in reality?

• Depends on the load. Resistive loads will pull more power when the voltage across them rises. Mar 1, 2022 at 12:53
• And asynchronous and synchronous motors will absorb more power when the frequency rises. Mar 1, 2022 at 13:09
• You've made an assumption about how the two remaining loads split the extra load between them. Think carefully about that assumption. What sort of load is that assumption valid for? Then make different assumptions, assume different behaviours for the loads, and see what happens. Mar 1, 2022 at 13:44

Well, it kind of depends of your generator.

The same reasoning applies to AC and DC. For simplification, let's use DC and pure resistive loads. Let's use only two of them: R1 and R2.

simulate this circuit – Schematic created using CircuitLab

Case 1

Consider your generator is a Voltage source, with voltage U1, and a maximum output power P1_max (so a maximum current I1=P1_max/U1).

Then, provided the generator can supply enough power, the power consumed by R2 will be P2=U1^2/R2 and the power consumed by R3 will be P3=U1^2/R3. The power provided by the generator will be P1=P2+P3 <= P1_max.

In this case, if you disconnect one load, it will have no influence on the other load. And the generator will just generate less power. This is the desired behaviour on most electrical networks. When you turn off your oven, you don't want the radio to get the power no longer used by the oven, or you would destroy the radio.

Case 2

The generator is a power generator that generates power P1 (=P1_max) all the time, independently of the load.

Let's suppose that when everything is connected, the voltage U1 of the generator matches the rated voltage for the loads.

We have P1=U1_nomxI1_nom=U1_nom²/R2 + U1_nom²/R3.

So P1=U1_nom²x(1/R2 + 1/R3)

Now suppose we disconnect R2, while keeping the power constant. We now have P1=U1xI1=U1²/R3, therefore U1=sqrt(R3xP1).

If we reuse the previous equations, it gives us

U1 = sqrt(R3xP1) = sqrt(R3xU1_nom²x(1/R2 + 1/R3)) = U1_nom x sqrt(1+R3/R2)

So if you disconnect R2, the voltage will increase above the nominal one (by a factor sqrt(1+R3/R2)>1, and the power consumed by R3 will increase with the square of this factor (i.e. by 1+R3/R2).

So in this second case, you are indeed forcing more power into the remaining load (by increasing voltage), which might lead to the destruction of the load.

So, to summarise:

• If you have a voltage generator then it only has a maximum power. As long as that is not exceeded, the voltage remains constant. That way, you can plug/unplug loads and a load always draws the same power: its nominal power. This is what you want in most cases e.g. in household devices.

• If you have a constant power generator then remove one load, the power it uses will split among the other devices, by increasing the voltage. That might damage those other devices if the voltage rises too high. This is useful to harvest the maximal power out of a generator, for example with a wind turbine or a solar panel. However, the equipment at the other side must be able to absorb that extra power. For example, it is often fine to charge batteries but try to do the same with something more sensitive, like a computer, and you will destroy it.

On real-world electrical networks like the mains, it's a bit of a mix. When some few electrical devices are switched off, the voltages rises a tiny bit but household devices can handle the mains tolerance without problems. When the voltage rises too high, the network operator has to regulate it, by turning down one electrical generator or by starting pumping water up dams to store energy for later use. If the network operator doesn't do this then when power consumption is at its lowest (middle of the night), the voltage would be far too high and destroy equipment.

On a smaller scale, if you use a fuel generator, it varies the power it produces by consuming more or less fuel, in order to ensure a stable output voltage.

• What an amazing answer! I literally understood all about that! Thank you very much, really!!!!!! Mar 1, 2022 at 13:33
• may I ask you which is the type of generators connected to the electrical grid in reality? Voltage source of power source? If a mix of them, which is the percentage (approximately) of one type or the other? Mar 1, 2022 at 13:39
• For the generators connected to the grid, it's a mixed form : most generators in itself are rather constant power when used in a constant manner. However, for many of them (hydrolic, nuclear, burning oil/trash/gas/coal), you can simply reduce the power by reducing the "fuel" you put in (nb : there is some delay) : that way, you can maintain nearly constant voltage with controled "power" generators. For wind and solar, the only possible regulation is storage or dissipation, so the regulation is done with other means. Mar 1, 2022 at 14:57
• Pure "constant voltage" sources not involving regulation a rare : the only one I see right now are batteries, which voltage is nearly independent from power. So all the art of regulating a network is to always keep production and consumption identical, in order to keep a stable voltage. NB : there is a small autoregulation : if the production rises, the voltages rises a bit, and therefore the consumption of some devices rise as well. If this is enough for fast variation (ie when you turn your owen on/off), it is not enough for regulation on biger time scales (which requires active regulation) Mar 1, 2022 at 15:01
• thank you very much again! Mar 1, 2022 at 15:41