Unit 2D–E – “Powering the Grid”

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Unit 2D–2E delves deeper into the unique properties of electricity, which make it difficult to store or route, therefore necessitating supply equal to demand. This unit explores the profile of electricity users and types of demand. It introduces three primary modes of generation—baseload, intermediate and peaking power—and their distinct characteristics, which must be balanced to provide uninterrupted and sufficient electricity service.

Three pie charts illustrate “Energy Consumption by Major Sector in the U.S.,” “Residential Energy Usage in the U.S.” and “U.S. Electric Power Industry Generation by Fuel Source.”

Unit 2D–2E also emphasizes “delivery without interruption,” which addresses three significant factors affecting the energy supply—availability, reliability, and cost—and their impact on energy markets. Visitors also learn how to decipher their own electric bills.

Looking toward the future of the energy industry, detailed text examines the need for significant infrastructure upgrades and the potential for a “smarter” grid that could allow a two-way flow of electricity and information between suppliers and consumers. An enhanced network could accept energy from virtually any fuel source, sense system weaknesses, and even make adjustments.

Media Treatment (MT2)

“Power the Grid” physically places the visitor in the driver seat as the grid operator, adjusting levels of power generation as consumer demand rises and falls throughout the course of a day. The intent of this media treatment is to demonstrate how the power grid operates and what types of generation—baseload, intermediate and peaking power—feed the vast network that delivers electricity to the consumer. Vibrant graphics illustrate examples of each type of generation as well as sample tasks that alter demand. Visitors quickly learn that supply must equal demand but can they meet the challenge of delivering electricity reliably and economically?

Target Audience

  • Best suited for intended audience:
  • School students in grades 6 through 12
  • General adult audience
  • Specialists in energy industry
  • Government dignitaries and representatives

Graphics and media contain copyrighted imagery. Please refer to the Graphic Production Sourcebook for source information.

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