By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
Forum sponsored by:
Forum sponsored by Allendale July 23rd

Grid Frequency [mains electricity]

All Topics | Latest Posts

Search for:  in Thread Title in  
Michael Gilligan12/08/2019 23:34:11
avatar
13800 forum posts
599 photos

Following the recent 'blackout' The Telegraph, reporting on the investigation, writes:

[quote]

The grid's frequency - a measure of energy intensity- normally sits around 50Hz. However, the paper said that in recent months the grid’s frequency has fallen below 49.6Hz on three different occasions, the deepest falls seen on the UK grid since 2015. On Friday the blackout was triggered when the frequency slumped to 48.88Hz.
In June, the frequency of the grid plummeted to within a whisker of National Grid’s legal limit of 49.5Hz after all three units of EDF Energy’s West Burton gas-fired power plant in Nottinghamshire tripped offline without warning.
In addition, the grid’s frequency fell to 49.55Hz on 9 May, and 49.58Hz of 11 July.

[/quote]

Is this just scaremongering, because they've found some numbers to quote; or is a 'slump' in frequency to 48.88Hz actually sufficient to trigger a large area blackout?

I believe we have some forum members with electicity industry experience ... so I would be grateful for an explanation [or a de-bunking] of the story.

Note: I am aware that the the contractual figure is 50Hz +/- 10% ... but I thought that was 'average over any 24 hours' or some such.

MichaelG.

.

Ref: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/08/12/national-grid-experienced-three-blackout-near-misses-last-months/

Edited By Michael Gilligan on 12/08/2019 23:38:58

Paul Lousick12/08/2019 23:42:51
1150 forum posts
492 photos

Reporters often distort the facts and get it wrong. For a start "The grid's frequency - a measure of energy intensity" is incorrect. Frequency has nothing to do with a measure of energy intensity. It is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time.

Paul.

Michael Gilligan12/08/2019 23:53:12
avatar
13800 forum posts
599 photos

This is nicely implemented: **LINK**

http://mainsfrequency.uk/fm-meter

MichaelG.

Barrie Lever13/08/2019 00:00:15
323 forum posts
1 photos
Posted by Michael Gilligan on 12/08/2019 23:34:11:

Following the recent 'blackout' The Telegraph, reporting on the investigation, writes:

[quote]

The grid's frequency - a measure of energy intensity- normally sits around 50Hz. However, the paper said that in recent months the grid’s frequency has fallen below 49.6Hz on three different occasions, the deepest falls seen on the UK grid since 2015. On Friday the blackout was triggered when the frequency slumped to 48.88Hz.
In June, the frequency of the grid plummeted to within a whisker of National Grid’s legal limit of 49.5Hz after all three units of EDF Energy’s West Burton gas-fired power plant in Nottinghamshire tripped offline without warning.
In addition, the grid’s frequency fell to 49.55Hz on 9 May, and 49.58Hz of 11 July.

[/quote]

Is this just scaremongering, because they've found some numbers to quote; or is a 'slump' in frequency to 48.88Hz actually sufficient to trigger a large area blackout?

I believe we have some forum members with electicity industry experience ... so I would be grateful for an explanation [or a de-bunking] of the story.

Note: I am aware that the the contractual figure is 50Hz +/- 10% ... but I thought that was 'average over any 24 hours' or some such.

MichaelG.

.

Ref: **LINK**

Edited By Michael Gilligan on 12/08/2019 23:38:58

Michael

I worked in large scale power generation until the late 80's, at that time the frequency lower limit was 49.5Hz, go any lower and you would have a generator unit trip.

In the 1980's the CEGB always had back up plant running at a low capacity to pick up the slack if there was a unit trip.

The recent events sound similar to the NY state black out in the early 70's, where I am fairly sure the power generation companies were running too near the limit, (not enough back up running) the alternators once they slow down under load below their lower limit then they just trip out, that then puts the other alternators in the grid under more strain and within a very short period of time (seconds) the whole lot comes crashing down.

Load from the grid has to be switched off to get the whole thing back into harmony.

I have never seen a generating unit trip because of being overloaded, I have seen 500Mw generators trip for other reasons, it is frightening seeing steam energy that was producing 500Mw then have to be dumped to atmosphere and the turbo alternator then slowing down from it's 3000 rpm.

Any questions then just ask but keep in mind that I came out of power generation in 1989.

Regards

Barrie

Brian Sweeting13/08/2019 00:13:17
367 forum posts
1 photos

This subject was broached some time ago I believe.

One of the problems with maintaining a stable frequency is the inputs from renewable energy. The wind and solar input to the grid will upset the status quo so that the base power generating equipment has to back down to prevent a rise in frequency.

When the wind drops and the clouds cover the sun the drop in frequency means the base power has to come on line quickly to maintain the power levels. With insufficient standby generating equipment there is likely to be brown outs or cuts happening more often.

peak413/08/2019 02:11:20
avatar
811 forum posts
67 photos

Have a look at this web site for an interesting display of energy sources powering the national grid.

http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

Bill

not done it yet13/08/2019 06:13:19
3240 forum posts
11 photos

The voltage can vary by +10% to -6% of the standardised european grid supply voltage of 230V. However, the frequency must be controlled within 1% of the nominal (see the introduction page on the link above @ 23: 53:12 where it states

The GB mains frequency is nominally 50Hz. National Grid is obliged by its licence commitments to control the frequency within ±1% of 50Hz so it can fluctuate between 49.5Hz to 50.5Hz. However the normal operational limits are 49.8Hz to 50.2Hz.”

Our mains clocks with synchronous motors, which rely on the frequency for accuracy, would be rubbish if the frequency varied by as much as 10%!

Neither the supply side (turbines turning at, say,10% over design speed) nor the user side - machinery running at the wrong speed can tolerate wide variations. Large industrial motors are designed for that specific frequency and might well suffer damage if the frequency deviates greatly (and efficiency would not be optimum). Not sure of the effect on electronic items.

Ian Parkin13/08/2019 07:31:10
avatar
642 forum posts
174 photos

From the frequency website that micheal linked to I,d not heard of copper clad aluminium before I,d heard of alloy clad steel...

  • A significantly higher frequency, e.g 400Hz as used in aircraft, would cause skin effects in transmission lines and this would reduce their carrying capacity or result in unwanted heating. At 50Hz, the electricity only travels through the outer 9.2mm of a copper conductor, so anything larger than 18.4mm in diameter is a waste of material unless it is for mechanical strength. To reduce weight and cost, many large conductors are made from copper-clad aluminium so that the electricity flows through the higher conductivity copper skin while the aluminium core provides the mechanical support.
J Hancock13/08/2019 07:43:10
301 forum posts

I think the real embarrassment was to find some wag's program had dumped London off line first,

as a way of saving the rest of the UK from blackout.

Meanwhile, the demolition of our coal-fired back-up generation continues.

Tony Pratt 113/08/2019 07:55:00
885 forum posts
2 photos
Posted by J Hancock on 13/08/2019 07:43:10:

I think the real embarrassment was to find some wag's program had dumped London off line first,

as a way of saving the rest of the UK from blackout.

Meanwhile, the demolition of our coal-fired back-up generation continues.

Are they really that stupid? I fear I already know the answer.

Tony

Barrie Lever13/08/2019 07:57:08
323 forum posts
1 photos

Michael

I think my trip frequency figure might be wrong, I went to bed after writing the post and realised it will be lower than 49.5Hz.

I will check that figure with a friend of mine who was a shift charge engineer in the CEGB.

As other contributors have indicated it is all down to not having enough back generation capacity ticking overwaiting for load.

Regards

Barrie

AdrianR13/08/2019 08:55:28
272 forum posts
20 photos

The news story is correct, mains frequency is important.

This is one of those counter intuitive things and is all to do with AC power theory.

Generators are basically synchronous motors that are driven rather than driving. If you don't know what a synchronous motor is see here

The important thing to know about synchronous motors/generators is in the name, they are synchronous with the mains frequency. That is with no load they run with the rotor spinning so that the rotor and stator magnetic fields coincide. N-S, S-N

As a motor is loaded, the angle between the rotor field and the rotating stator field increases and the rotor lags behind the stator field, so it is dragged along by the magnetic field. As the fields are not aligned, part of the stators field is cancelled by the the rotors other pole. ie A North stator sees mostly a South rotor pole plus a little bit of North rotor pole, and the magnetic circuit is slightly blocked. To keep it simple, less magnetic field, the more current flows in the stator, so more power is consumed and this power is converted into torque.

As the load increases eventually the rotor and stator break out of synchronisation and the motor stalls.

Now if we take the same motor but start to drive the shaft around., then the rotor will start to lead the stator field and the process is reversed. The torque is converted into power transferred to the grid, the amount generated is proportional to the difference between the grid frequency and the rotational frequency.

As you drive the shaft harder and harder, eventually the synchronisation will be lost and very nasty things possibly involving bright flashes and smoke happen. This is why they have automatic trips that drop out when the supply is out of tolerance and they say "it is to protect the rest of the system"

When more power is added to the grid with each generator leading the grid slightly, it has the tendency to increase the frequency. As more power is taken from the grid the reverse happens and the frequency drops.

To ensure the grid stays in balance we use 50Hz as the target frequency, each generator is synchronous and running with a leading angle so that the most efficient power transfer happens.

There is also a link between voltage generated and frequence, the higher the frequency (rotational speed) the higher the voltage. So at 50Hkz we will end up with the correct voltage on the grid.

As there is no way to store power in the grid and the load is varying, we have tolerances on the frequency and voltage. The national grid predict what power is needed at any time, and ensure generators come on and go off line to meet the load. However we have transitory loads, i.e. Advert breaks on the TV, every rushes out and puts the kettle on. Most of those are adsorbed in the tolerances, but some times it is necessary to increase the frequency just before a big spike, say an advert break in Coronation Street Xmas cliffhanger special.

So you can see Ofcom are correct in getting a little upset that the frequency has been bouncing around near the lower limit. It means the grid is running close to collapse. The loss of those two power sources resulted in the automatic protection tripping and the power cuts. If parts of the grid were not turned off we would have a cascade failure. Every power station in rapid sequence would drop off the grid as the remaining load was spread across fewer and fewer power stations.

The switch to wind an solar only make the situation worse, too much or too little wind and night time all mean the power going into the grid is reduced. So we need other sources, at the moment that is gas powered, eventually it will have to be battery storage. Nuclear is OK for base load, but it takes a while to warm up and cool down a reactor so it cant be used for transients.

We are already short of generating capacity, add in electric cars and houses switching to electric heating and we have a very real electricity crisis looming.

Adrian

Michael Gilligan13/08/2019 09:20:44
avatar
13800 forum posts
599 photos

Thanks for all the responses

I will digest them this evening.

MichaelG.

SillyOldDuffer13/08/2019 09:26:01
4592 forum posts
980 photos

Read all about frequency control in AC power systems in this paper. It gives parameters for the Irish 50Hz system which isn't unusual:

Typically, the limits for frequency variation are ±0.4% (±0.2Hz in a 50Hz system or a frequency band of 49.8→50.2Hz). This is the normal range for the Irish system. The range during transmission disturbances is 48Hz to 52Hz and during exceptional transmission disturbances is 47Hz to 52Hz. The permissible variation in voltage is much greater, typically ±6%.

Reducing frequency can happen both as a symptom of overload and as a managed way of decreasing generator load during periods of high demand. Faced with excessive demand the operator can drop both voltage and frequency, but there are limits outside which the system shuts down.

Dave

Mike Poole13/08/2019 09:40:21
avatar
2041 forum posts
47 photos

I am under the impression that the supply also guarantees to supply the correct number of cycles per day to avoid clocks accumulating an error.

Mike

Swarf, Mostly!13/08/2019 10:12:55
494 forum posts
41 photos
Posted by Mike Poole on 13/08/2019 09:40:21:

I am under the impression that the supply also guarantees to supply the correct number of cycles per day to avoid clocks accumulating an error.

Mike

As a result largely of the campaigning by Mr. Frank Hope-Jones, of Synchronome fame.

Best regards,

Swarf, Mostly!

Michael Gilligan13/08/2019 10:34:46
avatar
13800 forum posts
599 photos
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 13/08/2019 09:26:01:

Read all about frequency control in AC power systems in this paper. It gives parameters for the Irish 50Hz system which isn't unusual:

... The range during transmission disturbances is 48Hz to 52Hz and during exceptional transmission disturbances is 47Hz to 52Hz. ...

.

Which begs the question that I asked

MichaelG

John Haine13/08/2019 10:58:33
2591 forum posts
133 photos

I wonder just how many clocks still get time from the mains?

AdrianR13/08/2019 13:06:37
272 forum posts
20 photos

Opps, I expect it is Ofgen that worry more about the mains supply than Ofcom. Maybe I should get all my posts checked by Ofof before posting.

old mart13/08/2019 13:45:02
442 forum posts
42 photos

Years ago, it was common to have electric clocks powered by the mains, they depended on the frequency being stable. My old boss back in the 70's had one of those clocks on the wall of his office with the live and neutral reversed, so the hands rotated anticlockwise. The numbers on the dial were reversed to match.

All Topics | Latest Posts

Please login to post a reply.

Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of Model Engineer or Model Engineers' Workshop? Use our magazine locator links to find your nearest stockist!

Find Model Engineer & Model Engineers' Workshop

Latest Forum Posts
Support Our Partners
Eccentric Engineering
ChesterUK
Advertise With Us
Ausee.com.au
TRANSWAVE Converters
Meridienne oct 2019
Warco
Eccentric July 5 2018
emcomachinetools
Allendale Electronics
Subscription Offer

Latest "For Sale" Ads
Latest "Wanted" Ads
Get In Touch!

Do you want to contact the Model Engineer and Model Engineers' Workshop team?

You can contact us by phone, mail or email about the magazines including becoming a contributor, submitting reader's letters or making queries about articles. You can also get in touch about this website, advertising or other general issues.

Click THIS LINK for full contact details.

For subscription issues please see THIS LINK.

Digital Back Issues

Social Media online

'Like' us on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter
 Twitter Logo

Pin us on Pinterest